WIMBLEDON, England –
Nick Kyrgios cursed the Wimbledon chair umpire and asked, “Are you dumb?” He demanded to see a Grand Slam supervisor after asking why his opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, did not walk out of their always contentious and boring match for angrily hitting a ball into the stands after losing the second set.
Unsatisfied with the answer, Kyrgios asked, “What are you talking about, brother?” Then came this: “Brother, bring in more supervisors. I’m not done. Bring them all in. I don’t care. I won’t play until we get to the bottom of this.”
Narrator: He continued to play on Saturday. And the unpredictable, unseeded Kyrgios won 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(7) to reach the fourth round at the All England Club for the first time since 2016, then went criticized by the No. 4-seeded Tsitsipas for having “a very evil side.”
“It’s constant bullying. That’s what he does. He intimidates opponents,” said Tsitsipas, the 2021 French Open runner-up who also lost to Kyrgios on grass at a tournament in Halle, Germany, last month. “He was probably a bully himself at school. I don’t like bullies.”
There was more, much more, from the underarm serves hit by Kyrgios, including one between his legs, to the three shots Tsitsipas deliberately lobbed at him. Chair umpire Damien Dumusois handed a total of three code violations, one to Kyrgios for audible obscenity and two to Tsitsipas for ball abuse, earning him a penalty point.
Hearing Tsitsipas’ “thug” comment, Kyrgios laughed and shook his head.
“He was the one who hit my balls. He was the one who hit a spectator… I didn’t do anything. Apart from going back and forth with the referee, I didn’t do anything towards Stefanos today that was disrespectful.” I don’t think so,” Kyrgios said at his news conference, wearing a jersey with former NBA player Dennis Rodman’s name on it.
“If he’s affected by that today, then that’s what’s holding him back,” Kyrgios said of Tsitsipas. “Because somebody can do that, and it’s going to take him off his game in that way? I just think it’s smooth.”
There was even some great tennis along the way, with the players combining for 118 winners. It all took three hours, 17 minutes, without a dull moment, and ended so late that Court No. 1’s retractable roof closed and the floodlights came on midway through the fourth set.
Tsitsipas had a pair of set points to force a fifth, but Kyrgios saved both, the latter hitting a half-volley winner after serving and volleying on a second serve.
Kyrgios, a 27-year-old Australian, converted his second match point with a drop shot and then roared. That kind of ability has always been evident in Kyrgios, who has twice been a Grand Slam quarter-finalist. It’s also been obvious for a long time: Kyrgios often seems more interested in entertaining or arguing than doing whatever it takes to end up on the right side of the scoreboard.
On Saturday, during a substitution midway through the fourth set, Kyrgios sat in his chair, barking between bites of a banana. Was he yelling at an official? The people sitting in his guest box? Likewise? It’s hard to tell with him, sometimes.
The tournament fined him US$10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct in his first-round match, which he ended up spitting in the direction of a spectator who he said was interrupting him. It is the largest of the 22 prize money penalties issued in Week 1.
Kyrgios has a history of crossing the line during matches. In 2019, the ATP Tour placed him on six-month probation after he was fined $113,000 for eight infractions at one tournament. Earlier that season, he was ejected from a match at the Italian Open after throwing a chair. In 2016, he was suspended by the ATP for not trying to win and for insulting the fans during the Shanghai Masters.
His problems with Dumusois began in the first set, when a line judge upset him and wanted that official removed. It didn’t happen.
“There comes a point where you really get tired, let’s say,” said Tsitsipas, a 23-year-old Greek. “The constant conversations, the constant complaints.”
After Kyrgios broke to take the second set, Tsitsipas hit a backhand ball into the crowd. The ball appeared to bounce off a wall, but what was not entirely clear was whether it landed on anyone.
Tsitsipas later apologized for that, saying it was due to frustration created by “all the circus extravaganza that was going on, on the other side of the net.”
“I didn’t hit anyone. I did hit the wall, thank God,” he said, acknowledging that he was trying to hit his enemy with other balls aimed directly at his body. “I’m sure I’ll never do that again. It’s my responsibility, for sure.”
That only prompted a warning from Dumusois, which Kyrgios didn’t like.
“You can’t throw a ball into the crowd and hit someone and not get disqualified,” Kyrgios said, mentioning the episode at the 2020 US Open involving Novak Djokovic, who was ejected from a match after inadvertently hitting a ball that hit a linesman in the throat.
At one point, Kyrgios told Dumusois, “You don’t know how to play, so what if you don’t tell me how to play? … Brother, people want to see me, not you.”
They’ll get another chance to see Kyrgios on Monday, when he takes on Brandon Nakashima for a spot in the quarterfinals. Nakashima is one of four American men through to the fourth round, the most at Wimbledon since 1999.
The other men’s matches on Monday will be 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal against No. 21 Botic van de Zandschulp, No. 11 Taylor Fritz against qualifier Jason Kubler and No. 19 Alex de Minaur against Cristian Garin.
Nadal’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 27 Lorenzo Sonego wasn’t nearly as derailed as Kyrgios vs. Tsitsipas, but he had his own tug of war between the players. label.
Nadal didn’t like that Sonego’s growls were too loud and went on too long. Sonego did not like that Nadal beckoned him to talk online about it.
However, unlike Kyrgios and Tsitsipas, they later settled their differences in the locker room.
“I have to say,” Nadal said at his news conference, “that I was wrong.”