Nick Kyrgios courts yet more controversy as he crashes out of Wimbledon
Australian appeared to deliberately lose one game after another spat with umpire
Nick Kyrgios endured yet another spat with the umpire during his clash with Richard Gasquet on day Seven of the Wimbledon Championships. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA
He got a code violation for swearing. He hugged a ball boy. He raged at “external bullshit”. He rowed with the umpire over whether he was taking too long to change his socks. He hurled his racket 10ft into the air. He looked at one stage as though he would repeat last year’s feat against exactly the same opponent at Wimbledon and pull off an extraordinary comeback.
But having blazed through this tournament like a petulant if supernaturally gifted toddler Nick Kyrgios took his leave on No2 Court, defeated by Richard Gasquet following a ding-dong battle full of tension and tantrums.
The Frenchman, slaying his own demons after failing to convert nine match points against Kyrgios in the second round last year, in the main preferred to let his tennis do the talking and prevailed 7-5, 6-1, 6-7, 7-6.
Things had imploded for the 20-year-old Australian, who has fought a running battle with officialdom and his own media while simultaneously often delighting the crowd during the tournament’s first week, in the second set.
Having lost a narrow first, Kyrgios was given a code violation for an “audible obscenity”, in the process of dropping a service game.
Furious with the umpire James Keothavong he spent the next game sulking, barely tapping serves back into the net and jabbing his finger at the umpire. His latest show of petulance drew boos from a crowd largely sympathetic to his antics up to that point.
International Tennis Federation rules state: “A player shall use his best efforts to win a match when competing in a grand slam tournament. Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $20,000 [£12,860]for each violation.”
That could leave Kyrgios, who found himself in hot water during the first round for muttering “dirty scum”, facing a hefty fine. Not that he is likely to care.
During a later changeover, things took a surreal turn as he rowed with Keothavong over his socks.
“I’m staying on the court. If you’re going to get angry with me that, that’s another level. I’m changing my socks. You want me to ask him? Richard, I’m just changing my socks. Yeah, he’s fine.”
Frustrated as he was with the umpire, Kyrgios could not live with Gasquet in those first two sets, the Frenchman benefiting from his own voluble support.
Yet the tyro managed to gather himself at two sets down, perhaps heeding the exhortations from his box to “Keep your head up Nick” (they might have omitted the up), and raced into a 3-0 lead in the third.
Again, it was not to last and he mishit a volley before putting an easy smash into the net to hand to hand Gasquet a break back. It was hugely entertaining fare, if not always of the highest quality.
Kyrgios keeps up a running commentary during his own matches and at one point loudly asked himself: “Why am I serving so badly?” There were too many unforced errors too, amid the flashes of excellence.
For every drop shot that was loose, lazy and tossed away a point, there was another that smacked of insouciant brilliance. And for all his antics, it is impossible not to warm to Kyrgios’s tendency to play as though he is in the park.
On the verge of defeat the yellow and green Fanatics in the crowd, forever teetering on the line between amusing and annoying, urged him “fight, Nicky, fight” and he did just that.
Having saved two match points in a third set tie-break, the first with a brutal forehand beyond Gasquet’s despairing dive and the second with a cross court winner, the Frenchman netted to give Kyrgios the set and renewed hope.
Now it was the hitherto ice cool Gasquet’s turn to be furious with himself at the missed opportunity, earning his own warning from the umpire for slamming his racket down at the change of ends.
Collars upturned, gold chains jangling, Kyrgios got his serve back and perhaps sensed a comeback to match last year’s record-breaking effort when he recovered from two sets down as a 19-year-old wildcard. But Gasquet dug deep during a fourth set that headed inexorably towards another tie-break.
Aptly enough, Kyrgios banged down aces to earn himself a set point before double-faulting. Gasquet, seizing an opportunity he had already squandered 11 times in two matches, blew out his cheeks as his opponent blew his chances by sending down another double fault.