Wimbledon 2015: Controversial Nick Kyrgios gives up whole game in second set as he loses to Richard Gasquet

Australian draws criticism during 5-7, 1-6, 7-6, 6-7 defeat

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The Independent Online

Australia’s punk warrior Nick Kyrgios was booed for not trying during a fourth-round match, extraordinary by even his standards, which he eventually lost 7-5, 6-1, 6-7, 7-6 to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Out on the same No 2 Court where Gasquet had failed to take any of nine match points against him last year, Kyrgios, for whom the adjective temperamental is an understatement, appeared to be sulking during the second set after a code violation for swearing from the British umpire James Keothavong. He hit a couple of feeble shots and played almost in slow motion while going 3-0 down amid jeers from the initially supportive crowd. Sue Barker, the BBC presenter, later admitted: “I have never seen anything like it at Wimbledon.”

In a tetchy press conference, held over for some hours until he had played (and lost) a mixed doubles, the 20-year-old tried to concentrate on emphasising his recovery to win the third set before eventually denying that he had “tanked” a game, which could cost a heavy fine.

“Of course, I tried,” he insisted. “He served too good. He hit a serve past me as an ace. That’s too good. That’s too good. I thought I responded well, though, to even come back and win the third set. I think it takes some serious balls to respond the way I did. Obviously, it was a tough, tough time, especially when he’s not missing any balls. I’m getting frustrated. I feel as if I’m playing not how I should be. I’m angry at myself.”

Kyrgios has been involved in several incidents since the start of Wimbledon, where he made his name last year by knocking out Rafael Nadal. Last week, he escaped a fine after insisting that a “dirty scum” comment was aimed at himself, not the umpire. After winning back a few friends by hugging a ball-boy – “everyone now and then wants a hug” – Kyrgios was also involved in a bizarre exchange with Keothavong about the time taken to change his socks. “Mate, Rafa [Nadal] and stuff play 30 seconds in between points every time and all I’m doing is putting my sock back on,” he said.

 

Reports in Australia have suggested he was upset by the treatment of his friend Bernard Tomic, who was dropped from the Davis Cup squad as a disciplinary measure. Here, he said that “wasn’t playing on my mind too much” but hinted that other, more personal, matters were: “There’s a lot of things going on at the moment that aren’t focusing on the actual tennis. There’s a lot of stuff going on. You don’t need to know about them.”

Gasquet was convinced, like most spectators, that his opponent was hardly extending himself in that third game of the second set and perhaps even further. “It’s true, he give me a little bit this set,” he said. “But I knew actually it wouldn’t be the same in the third and fourth.”

Gasquet, ranked nine places higher at No 20, took the set 6-1 in only 23 minutes for a 2-0 lead before Kyrgios, who had then lost eight games out of nine, started giving his all again. He came through the third set on a tie-break, after saving two match points, which might have brought back bad memories for the elegant Frenchman.

Gasquet was so furious that he, too, suffered a code violation after smashing his racket. He remained calmer during what turned out to be the final set, however. It went to another tie-break, with no breaks of serve this time, before Kyrgios squeezed ahead and had two set points at 6-4.

A double-fault at a crucial time cost him heavily and, even worse, a second followed at match point against him. The young Australian challenged, but with as little conviction as he had played the controversial game in the second set, and the inevitable Hawk-eye verdict confirmed a place in the quarter-finals for Gasquet against Stan Wawrinka.

Kyrgios is likely to discover on Tuesday how heavy his fine for swearing will be and he could theoretically be docked up to £12,800 for breaking the International Tennis Federation rule stating: “A player shall use his best efforts to win a match when competing in a Grand Slam tournament.”

Andy Murray later offered Kyrgios his support and Gasquet remained generous about him, insisting: “He likes the show. Everybody can see that. I think it’s good to have some players like that on the circuit. I think it is good for us.”

Opinions about that are increasingly divided.

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