Kyrgios defends spitting at fan during first round win as officials ponder penalties

Wimbledon officials discuss fines Nick Kyrgios after admitting to spitting at a spectator and calling a linesman a “snitch” during a stormy first round win against Briton Paul Jubb.

The Australian claimed there were extenuating circumstances for his behavior by accusing the referee of ignoring his pleas for evicting an abusive spectator, and also accused social media of creating a new breed of supporters who enjoy filming themselves while they abuse sports stars.

After his 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7, 7-5 win against Jubb, Kyrgios said he spat at the spectator because they constantly “disrespected” him.

“It’s happening more and more in sports,” Kyrgios said.

“I don’t go to Argos and just start beating up someone at the counter when they do their job. I’ve never done that in my life. I just think onlookers think there’s just no line anymore. They can just say something and they film it and then they laugh about it.

“Someone just yelled that I was shit in the crowd today. Is that normal? No. But it happens again and again. I think it’s a level of respect. Why do they think that is acceptable?”

Kygrios was accused of hypocrisy after abusing several officials during his three-hour match. They included calling out a linesman loudly as a “snitch” when she went to the umpire at 3-2 in the first set, and repeatedly telling another to leave the field if she made a mistake.

He was annoyed again when two silver-haired linesmen went rogue. “These people are in their 90s, they can’t see the ball,” he bellowed after a successful challenge. Wimbledon confirmed that they would speak to the referee and review Kyrgios’ press conference transcript before making a decision on the penalty to be taken.

Under the rules governing grand slam tournaments, players are cautioned not to “verbally at any time, directly or indirectly, verbally abuse any official, opponent, sponsor, spectator, or other person within the tournament site grounds.”

In 2010, the Romanian Victor Hanescu was fined $15,000 after spitting at onlookers. Under grand slam rules, players can now be fined up to $20,000 (£16,400) for each violation. Kyrgios insisted, however, that he had done nothing wrong.

“All these spectators came to see a packed stadium with Nick Kyrgios and my opponent,” he said when asked about the “snitch” comment. “She thought it was relevant to go to the referee when she was 30 and talk about her. Actually, there was no one to see her today.”

Briton Paul Jubb scared Nick Kyrgios before he eventually lost in five sets.
Briton Paul Jubb scared Nick Kyrgios before he eventually lost in five sets. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

During the match, Kygrios also urged the umpire, Marija Cicak, to kick out some of the spectators who abused him, although he did not specify the nature of the abuse. “They have no right to do that,” he told her. “They must be removed. I don’t go to their face in their 9-5 and start clapping when they scan shit in a supermarket. They have no right to do that, so why does it keep happening?”

Kygrios later also made a bizarre claim that he was right to attack officials because he gets more abuse on social media than she does.

“I really just know that when we go through my Instagram compared to a referee’s, it’s disgusting some of the things I deal with. Like my brother has alopecia and they joke that he is a cancer patient. I doubt the umpires will handle that.

“It goes deeper than that because if I lose a tennis match and it comes down to a phone call, they’re not being abused on social media. I’m dealing with it.

“My girlfriend is into hate messages. My family is into hate messages. I deal with hate messages.”

Nearly lost in the weeds of an extraordinary press conference, Jubb, the world No. 219 yet to win one match on the main tour, gave Kygrios an all-powerful scare.

“It was incredibly tough,” Kygrios said. “He was a local wild card, he had nothing to lose and played exceptional tennis. I thought I was going to go down there.

“From a level point of view, it’s probably one of the worst matches I’ve ever played at Wimbledon. I didn’t feel the ball well, I didn’t hit the ball well, I didn’t serve well, I couldn’t go back for ages. I played terribly for an hour and a half. Then I somehow just demolished. I just see that as positive.”

Jubb has vowed to climb the rankings but insisted what happened in court hadn’t touched him. “I didn’t pay attention to that,” he said. “So I can’t really remember what he was ranting about.”

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