Nick Kyrgios: Top 6 infamous moments as he prepares for Wimbledon quarter-final
Some purist tennis fans may not like it, but Nick Kyrgios is the name on most people’s lips this Wimbledon as the mercurial Australian charges through the men’s singles draw.
Dubbed the bad boy of The Championships, Kyrgios’ behaviour has riled and excited many in equal measure. He is not your average strawberries-and-cream tennis player. That’s what has made him so watchable, the most volatile player to step on to the grass at SW19 for many a year.
What happened last Saturday night, when Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas produced one of the most heated matches in Wimbledon history, has put him once again right back in the spotlight. While he had justification in calling out Tsitsipas’s extraordinarily reckless firing of a ball into the crowd, Kyrgios’s constant chuntering, swearing and discourse with the umpire did not curry favour with many. After the match, Tsitsipas called the Australian a “bully”. Yet ultimately it was Kyrgios who won the match.
Kyrgios has surely dethroned John McEnroe as the enfant terrible – but while the American backed up his antics by winning not one, but three Wimbledon titles, Kyrgios has yet to burst past the last-eight stage of any major. He has the hallmarks of a stroppy teenager, yet is box-office for the sport, a must-watch with his unique style of tennis. Massive aces are followed by under-arm serves, tweeners, episodes of tanking and then 130mph forehands. He has it all.
At the age of 27, Kyrgios should be at his peak. He’s certainly playing some excellent tennis amidst the maelstrom. Backed by a support-team lead by his fiancée Costeen Hatzi, Kyrgios looks in the mood. He fancies this. He wants to win Wimbledon. And he is a warm favourite to at least make the semi-finals this time around, up against the unseeded Chilean Christian Garin on Wednesday afternoon.
So as you wonder whether Kyrgios will vent at supporters, his opponent, the umpire, line judges or everyone in London, let’s look back at his naughtiest moments in an already colourful career.
2015: Nick Kyrgios v Stan Wawrinka
This is one of the more unsavoury tales from the Kyrgios locker. During a Rogers Cup match in Canada between Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka, the Australian said under his breath: “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that mate.” Kyrgios was referring to his compatriot and friend Thanasi Kokkinakis and Wawrinka’s then partner Donna Vekic, 11 years his junior. Kyrgios then went on to say Wawrinka, aged 30 at the time, was “banging 18-year-olds”. The Swiss went on to lose the match and complained about Kyrgios’s comments, calling them “unacceptable”. Kyrgios was fined heavily and given a suspended ban. And while he claimed he apologised to Wawrinka, the Swiss refutes that. It was a very ugly moment on court.
2016: Bull in a China shop
The Shanghai Rolex Masters is one of the most popular tournaments on the tour, but Kyrgios did not think so back in 2016. Up against Mischa Zverev in the second round, Kyrgios was fined $33,000 and suspended for eight weeks for “lack of best efforts” against the German. He was defeated 6-3 6-1 in 48 minutes and, at one point, said to a rather confused umpire: “Can you call time so I can finish this match and go home?”. Later in his post-match press conference, when he was asked whether he owed the paying public more effort, Kyrgios responded: "What does that even mean? I'm good at hitting a tennis ball at the net. Big deal. I don't owe them anything. If you don't like it, I didn't ask you to come watch. Just leave."
2018: Lewd water bottle gesture
Oh, the infantile mind of a teenager! At Queen’s in 2018, Kyrgios was fined $17,500 for performing an imitation of a lewd act as he sat in a courtside chair at the change of ends during his semi-final defeat by Marin Cilic. Kyrgios was reported to “hold the bottle between his legs before shaking it and spraying out water, while making expressions with his face”. The ATP unsurprisingly deemed this an “inappropriate behaviour”.
2019: Roman explosion
What happened at the Rome Masters three years ago in a match against Casper Ruud was one of the more extraordinary episodes of recent times. Kyrgios was defaulted from his second-round match with the Norwegian after swearing at a line judge, kicking a bottle and throwing a chair on to the court. The ATP took a dim view of this, fining him nearly £20,000, forfeiting his prize money and ordering him to pay hospitality damages.
2019: Cin city
Cincinnati, Ohio, 2019. The mother of all implosions. Kyrgios was fined $113,000 for five separate incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct at the Masters tournament. During the second set of his match against Karen Khachanov, Kyrgios claimed the shot clock had been started too early and launched an expletive-laden rant at umpire Fergus Murphy. He said the Irishman was "the worst, hands down", a “potato” and a “disgrace”. He then walked off court, claiming he needed to use the bathroom, but instead used the time to smash two rackets on the floor in a corridor. He also put a towel over one of the match cameras. At the end of the match Kyrgios told Murphy he was "a f****** tool", did not shake his hand and appeared to spit at him. The fine of $133,000 set an ATP record, not surprisingly.
And this year …
Even before this year’s Wimbledon, Kyrgios has landed himself in hot water in 2022. At the Indian Wells Masters against Rafael Nadal, Kyrgios received a point penalty for swearing at a fan during the match and repeatedly clashed with the crowd and umpire Carlos Bernardes. Then two weeks later in Miami, Kyrgios was fined $47,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct during his defeat by Jannik Sinner. Kyrgios had again clashed with Bernardes, who had given him a point penalty and then a game penalty during the match.