Australian tennis rebel Nick Kyrgios caused outrage by throwing his tennis racket and nearly hitting a ball boy after a quarter-final loss to Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells.
The world number 132 was beaten 7-6(0), 5-7, 6-4 by the recently crowned Australian Open champion. And although he appeared calm as he made his way to the net to shake hands with the winner and the referee, Kyrgios then turned and slammed his racquet into the ground which then bounced through the air and almost hit a ball boy head-on.
Kyrgios left to a mix of boos and cheers, and faced widespread calls to be banned and given a “heavy fine” for the outburst. But the events leading up to the incident during the three-set thriller should perhaps have been an indicator that he was about to come out.
Hitting a first racket earlier in the action, he swore at other times and also had to deal with a heckler.
Kyrgios asked the rowdy punter if he was “good at tennis” to which he responded to a business “no”.
“Exactly, so don’t tell me how to play,” Kyrgios retorted.
“Do I tell him how to act? he pointed out, waving to A-list actor Ben Stiller, who was enjoying the match with his wife Christine Taylor ringside. “No,” Finished Kyrgios, making the comedian smile.
Kyrgios also had a heated one-minute exchange with the referee during the loss, which saw Nadal avenge a 2014 Wimbledon defeat where Kyrgios beat him in four sets to reach the quarter-finals at SW19 en route to a global career ranking. number 13.
After the match, Kyrgios showed he didn’t appreciate the rowdy or being asked about the second racket smash.
“When you are a spectator watching professionals play tennis, you should just shut up,” he added. Kyrgios insisted. “Like, sit back and enjoy the show. I thought it was a high level game and I’m just asking for some respect.”
“What would you like me to say about that?” Kyrgios barked when asked about the ball boy.
“Was that my intention? No. Did I throw the racket somewhere near him originally? She landed three feet from my foot and skidded and almost touched it.
“I’m human. Things happen like this. I think if I had done this a million times, it wouldn’t have happened like this.” he suggested.
“And what do you want me to tell you? It was three meters from the kid. It’s a question you’re going to ask after a three-hour battle against Nadal. That’s what you come up with here ?” Kyrgios scoffed.
Nadal didn’t want to join the heap and said he thought Kyrgios “had a great attitude throughout the match in terms of fighting spirit, and of course he has his personality, his character”.
“Sometimes he does things that I don’t like” Nadal conceded. “But I respect because of the different character, different viewpoints and different kind of upbringing.”
Amid Alexander Zverev attacking a chair umpire with his racquet earlier this year, however, for which the German received an eight-week suspended ban and a $25,000 fine, Nadal called on the ATP to suppress such behavior.
“These situations are happening more and more often. The ATP should put an end to it,” he added. Nadal said. “Otherwise, sooner or later, something major will happen.”
Until then, however, there are no hard feelings between Kyrgios and the ball boy, as shown in screenshots of messages between the pair that Kyrgios tweeted and captioned saying he had “made a new friend in the process”.
“Accidents happen, but we can do everything we can to make things better,” he added.
“Hey bro! Sorry for my racketeering incident at the end! Total crash, are you okay?” Kyrgios asked him with a prayer emoji. “I was wondering if I could send you a racket and if you could accept my apology,” he added, while asking if the youngster would be in court tomorrow.
Being a good sportsman, the ballboy accepted the olive branch from Kyrgios and thanked him for “give a hand” before confirming that he was “everything goes well”, would love a racquet and be on court on Friday.
” Of course my brother ! Kirgios replied “I didn’t want it to go near you to be honest,” he said, before planning how he would route the racket to the ball boy while stalking him.
Despite his goodwill gesture, Kyrgios could still face disciplinary action like he did in 2019. Afterwards, Kyrgios was notoriously hit with a 16-week suspended ban and a $25,000 fine. for aggravated behavior during a meltdown in Cincinnati that saw him score the ATP. “corrupt”.