Kiwi doubles player Michael Venus has unleashed on Australian Open spectators and Nick Kyrgios, labelling the Australian an immature "absolute knob" after losing in the quarter-finals to the "Special Ks".
Venus and German Tim Pütz went down in three sets to Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis on Tuesday at Kia Arena, where a raucous crowd supported the all-Australian partnership who had hammed it up for the vocal fans.
Venus, 34, on Wednesday said the sledging from the crowd was at times intolerable and some spectators made comments about him and his family as he prepared to serve.
“It felt like a circus out there and not really a tennis match,” Venus told New Zealand television channel 1News.
“Between serves [THEY WERE]geeing the crowd up and getting them to cheer at times like that. I don’t think that’s really on.
“You know if it’s on the other foot, old mate [KYRGIOS]would have flipped his lid. He already did get mad there by himself. It’s amazing, he can smash a ball out that hits a kid and just ’cause he gives them a racket afterwards people can say he’s such a good guy.”
The on-court tension between Venus and Kyrgios, in particular, was noticeable and both had words with each other and the umpire over perceived injustices. Kyrgios also mocked Venus’s at-times wayward ball toss.
Venus said on Wednesday that Kyrgios’s supporters messaged him on social media “an extreme amount” but there were also “a lot of messages from other people saying how embarrassed they were with the crowd’s behaviour and they’re sorry, it shouldn’t have been like that”.
“They’ll always be his supporters and he’ll always spin it in a way that helps him but at the end of the day, he’s just an absolute knob,” Venus said.
“On the maturity side, you see why he’s never fulfilled his potential and probably never will. His maturity level, it’s probably being generous to a 10-year-old, to say it’s at about that level.”
The New Zealander acknowledged Kyrigos was an “unbelievable tennis player” who had “amazing” on-court intelligence.
Kyrgios, who is ranked No 115 in the world, has not yet responded to the criticism.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis will play Thursday's semi-final against Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina on Rod Laver Arena after the tournament director, Craig Tiley, announced they had been moved to centre court due to their popularity.
“We’re actually going to move the Special Ks from Kia Arena onto Rod Laver Arena,” Tiley told host broadcaster, the Nine Network, on Wednesday.
Tiley also said any spectator holding a ground pass would be able to access Rod Laver Arena to watch the pair and stay to see newly named Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott play his men’s quad singles final against Sam Schröder of the Netherlands. It will be the final match of Alcott’s career.
“We want to make Dylan’s match the most-watched wheelchair tennis match in the history of the game tomorrow afternoon,” Tiley said.
Crowd capacity, currently capped at 50 per cent for the tournament, will be raised to 65 per cent for the finals, the Victorian sport minister, Martin Pakula, tweeted on Wednesday.
“Breaking my self imposed Twitter hiatus (which I will return to – it’s blissful) to advise that the chief health officer has agreed to increase the ticketed capacity of the Australian Open to 65 per cent for the remainder of the tournament,” he wrote.