Nick Kyrgios’ Wimbledon match against Stefanos Tsitsipas was delayed in farcical scenes after the Greek star hit a ball to the crowd.
Nick Kyrgios refused to play for several minutes in his blockbuster third-round Wimbledon game against Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Greek star hit a ball into the crowd and appeared to hit someone.
Kyrgios had just tied the game with a set-all in his eventual 6-7 6-4 6-3 7-6 victory when Tsitsipas sent a backhand volley into the crowd. A slow-motion replay appeared to show the ball bouncing off a wall and possibly making contact with the back of the head of a man sitting close to the field.
The Aussie demanded that his opponent, like Novak Djokovic, be given notice of default at the 2020 US Open, refusing to play until the matter was resolved by officials.
“Is that a standard or what? He just hit the ball to the fucking crowd. Are you stupid? So you can hit a ball to the crowd, hit someone and not fail? Are you stupid?” he said to the chair umpire.
‘You are a disgrace. You change the rules whenever you want…
‘Give me all the escorts. I won’t play until we get to the bottom of it.”
Kyrgios eventually agreed to start the third set and won it quickly to take the match 6-7 6-4 6-3.
But he was not alone in his stance on the situation.
“The idea that this near miss stands; and Novak’s much less potent 2020 US Open swat led to immediate default… this rule needs serious reassessment,” tweeted tennis writer Jon Wertheim.
Kyrgios advances to the fourth round where he faces American 20-year-old Brandon Nakashima, who is ranked 56th in the world.
From there, a potential quarter against compatriot Alex De Minaur awaits – and if he can get past that, a semi-final against Rafa Nadal.
But this match will take a beating in the entertainment stakes and had all the hallmarks of a classic early on.
The first three games went deuce – although neither player was able to break.
Kyrgios started racing through his service games at warp speed, adding a bit of flavor to the crowd with a tweener serve and another pump fake tweener serve followed by a bomb on the tee.
But the wheels fell off after the Aussie was on the wrong side of an incorrect line call when he pushed to break Tsitsipas at 5-5.
Kyrgios was furious and asked the chair umpire to remove the offending linesman.
“She’s only got one line to call,” Kyrgios said, switching ends. “It’s irritating. Mistakes every game. 5 of them all.”
He recovered to hold the serve and force a tie-breaker, but an early double foul put him behind and appeared to falter.
Tsitsipas took the lead 4-2 with a brilliant return past Kyrgios – who tried to serve and volley – before the Greek star showed great composure by walking away as Kyrgios prepared to serve as he continued to scold the linesman.
“He has every right to do that,” the ESPN commentator said.
Kyrgios lost the tiebreak 7-2 and took his record in tiebreaks in 2022 to 5-8 – and he kept finding new things to complain about early in the second set after Tsitsipas challenged a line call during a run that the Aussie eventually won.
‘Do you know what that’s called? Abuse of the system,” said Kyrgios, believing that his opponent wouldn’t challenge until he knew he couldn’t win the point.
Despite all the distractions, Kyrgios was relatively undisturbed on the service. He had a breakpoint leading 4-3 but, just like the first set, was unable to take advantage.
He nearly gave up the next game with a couple of erroneous drop shots before being cautioned by the chair umpire after being reported by another linesman for offensive language.
But in the blink of an eye, the second set was his.
Tsitsipas first showed nerves in the breakpoint of the match at 5-4 and gave Kyrgios a point that he was not really entitled to.
You would have thought the turnaround would have refocused the Aussie, but he returned to his seat in an uneasy mood as ever after watching Tsitsipas hit the ball into the crowd in apparent frustration.
After the break, Kyrgios quickly took control of the third set. He broke Tsitsipas in the fourth game and took a 3-1 lead before winning his next service game.
He secured a 4-1 lead with another drop shot that slammed Tsitsipas hard into the opposing wall to earn a code violation from the umpire and booing from a crowd now firmly behind the Aussie.
It was now Tsitsipas who had extensive discussions with the chair umpire, apparently about how Kyrgios had escaped largely with impunity for his controversial behaviour.
“We are here to play tennis!” he said.
But he was unable to retrieve Kyrgios, who kept his cool even as Tsitsipas appeared to deliberately fire shots at his body.
“He got frustrating at times – and it’s a frustrating game,” Kyrgios said after the game.
“What happens on the field stays on the field. I love him. He’s a brother.”
There was another moment of drama early in the fourth set when the Aussie lost his balance and went down holding his hip.
But he returned to his feet and kept the pressure on the fourth seed.
Tsitsipas was in serious trouble trailing 15-40 at 3-3 but fought his way out of trouble to renew his hopes of a comeback.
He put Kyrgios in the same 15-40 hole in the next game, but the Aussie served his way out of trouble.
After a delay to close the roof, Tsitsipas pushed back to the front at 5-4 – before earning a set point at 30-40 in the next game.
But Kyrgios ripped a pair of scintillating backhand winners to avert danger once again.
A straight forward Tsitsipas hold was followed by a Kyrgios service game that was anything but – but again he survived to force another tiebreak.
Kyrgios earned the first minibreak to lead 5-4, but Tsitsipas immediately grabbed it and they switched sides again at 6-6.
The tiebreak turned into an epic as both men averted match points with brilliant pressure tennis – but it was Kyrgios who triumphed with a sensational dropshot winner.
Originally published as ‘You’re a disgrace’: Kyrgios refuses to play after Tsitsipas hits ball at crowd