Tennis maverick Nick Kyrgios was dubbed “an absolute k--b” on Wednesday by his latest opponent Michael Venus, as the 2022 Australian Open continued to throw up personal gripes and grievances.
Kyrgios’s extrovert doubles performances might have thrilled the Aussie fans and boosted viewing figures, but he has also offended several opponents along the way, with New Zealand’s Venus being only the latest example.
During Tuesday’s doubles quarter-final on Kia Arena, Venus had to put up with jeers and heckling from the stands every time he misplaced his ball toss – which was often. Kyrgios only encouraged this hostile reception from the 5,000-strong crowd, and the two men exchanged words during the match.
Speaking to the New Zealand-based title 1News afterwards, Venus described the contest as “like a circus out there, and not really a tennis match. Between serves, [the Australians 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."
— 1News (@1NewsNZ) January 26, 2022
Venus also referred to the heart-in-mouth moment when Kyrgios smacked a loose ball into the crowd and unfortunately struck a young boy on the body. Kyrgios – who turned the boy’s tears into a smile by immediately presenting him with a racket – admitted after the match that he had feared being disqualified at that moment. But chair umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore let the incident pass.
"He already did get mad there by himself,” said Venus. “It's amazing, he can smash a ball out that hits a kid and just because he gives them a racket afterwards, people can say he's such a good guy.
"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 [say it’s on a par with] a 10-year-old, it's at about that level.
"The amount of messages I got from people, an extreme amount, way, way more than I've ever had but then a lot of messages from 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 spin it in a way that helps him but at the end of the day he's an absolute k--b."
Kyrgios suggested after the match that he and his doubles partner, Thanasi Kokkinakis, were “role models to the youth in Australia”. They were due to face the third seeds, Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, in Thursday’s semi-final.
Venus’s frank opinions followed on from the controversial words of Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday evening. Shapovalov had suggested that Rafael Nadal – who had just beaten him in five exhausting sets – received preferential treatment from umpires over his slow timekeeping.
During the match, Shapovalov even went as far as to tell umpire Carlos Bernardes that “you guys are all corrupt”, though he later backed down from this position, saying that “I mis-spoke”.