“I play the sport the way I play it. I’m not going to change.” So said Nick Kyrgios in the wake of his bizarre outburst during his opening round match at Wimbledon.
He stated to the assembled media following his straight-sets win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman that when he uttered on court the words, “dirty scum”, he was in fact directing them at himself.
Now, that is bizarre.
It is certainly not the sort of self-analysis that many of us would come up with. And, let’s be honest, neither did Kyrgios.
His words came in the wake of a heated exchange with Swedish chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, precipitated by the fact that Kyrgios felt he had been handed a dud line call. After telling Lahyani, “No, no, no. They are not the rules”, he demanded the presence of another tournament official at courtside to resolve what he saw as an unmitigated injustice.
And, while he was awaiting the arrival of said official, he informed the chair that he would, “Sit down here and wait until whenever he comes.”
The feisty 20-year-old then thought better of his actions and deigned to play on. It was upon the resumption that courtside microphones picked up his “dirty scum” line.
Kyrgios has talent and plenty of it – he is the 26th seed at the most prestigious tournament on the calendar. In November, three-time Wimbledon John McEnroe extolled the virtues of Kyrgios’ game, saying that he is “going to be a top five in the world for sure”.
McEnroe further pumped up Kyrgios’ tyres last week when he suggested that outside the big names at the All-England Club over the next fortnight the Australian is the next best chance to breakthrough for a win.
High praise indeed.
But, sadly, when it comes to on-court misdemeanours, Kyrgios is a recidivist. He came onto the pro circuit with a reputation for being a hothead and he has certainly lived up to that early opinion.
At 20 years of age it is time that he moderated his behaviour, and by extension, his persona. The sad thing about his response to his recent outburst was his acknowledgment that he would not be changing his ways.
He would have been best served in saying that he is aware that he has some things in his game that he needs to work on. To refer to an official as dirty scum is hardly the sort of thing he would be advised to continue.
Nowadays players are remunerated extremely well.
A first round singles loser at Wimbledon walks ways with £29,000 ($58,900). Following his win over Argentine Juan Monaco overnight, Kyrgios is through to the third round where a loss would earn him £75,000 ($152,900).
And therein lies part of the problem.
When asked at his post-match media conference following his opening round win if he was concerned he would be fined, Kyrgios replied, “It wouldn’t bother me one bit”. Fines for the type of behaviour that Kyrgios frequently exhibits are minimal in the scheme of his annual earnings.
His response showed he could not care less if he was issued with a financial penalty.
Krygios’ behaviour is a bad look – period. He was fined $4926 for his racquet abuse and audible obscenities following his first round match at this year’s Australian Open.
His sanction did little to pacify him as he launched an expletive-laden tirade against fans, line officials and umpires – and the odd smack of the ball in the direction of the ball kids – during his match against Italian Andreas Seppi en route to the quarter-finals.
His petulance during the fortnight at Melbourne Park prompted The Sydney Morning Herald to ask in a poll if Krygios’ behaviour had gone too far?
Of the 15,000-plus respondents, 72 per cent answered in the affirmative. Chances are that number will have increased since then.
It is time that Krygios said farewell to his boorish behaviour and simply let his skills with the racquet do the talking. If not, he will continue to alienate what could be a significant fan-base, especially here in Australia.