Nick Kyrgios has labeled Stefanos Tsitsipas “soft” after the defeated Greek accused the Australian of being a bully with a “bad side”, in a bitter postscript to Wimbledon’s explosive third round.
Most important points:
- Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas says he wished Nick Kyrgios’ antics were “not tolerated” in sport
- Kyrgios fired back by labeling Tsisipas “soft”
- Kyrgios defeated Tsitsipas in an explosive third-round duel at the All-England club
Kyrgios demanded that Tsitsipas default after he recklessly hit a ball in the stands and nearly punched a female spectator during his 6-7 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) loss on Saturday (local time).
Kyrgios was also engaged in an ongoing battle with the chair umpire, with both players being given code violations for unsportsmanlike conduct during the hateful encounter.
“It’s constant bullying, that’s what he does. He bullies his opponents. He was probably a bully himself at school. I don’t like bullies. I don’t like people who put other people down,” Tsitsipas said, while he an ugly war of words.
“He also has some good qualities in his character. But he also has a very bad side about him which, if exposed, can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him.”
Kyrgios laughed off the claims before sarcastically saying he would also be upset if he lost to the same opponent four times in as many matches as Tsitsipas in their one-sided rivalry.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure how I bullied him. He was the one who hit balls at me, he was the one who hit a spectator, he was the one who knocked him out of the stadium,” Kyrgios said after booking a fourth round appointment with unseeded American Brandon Nakashima on Monday.
“I didn’t do anything. Other than going back and forth to the referee, I didn’t do anything to Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don’t think. I wasn’t drilling him with balls.”
Tsitsipas was penalized at one point for hitting a return from an underarm serve from Kyrgios into a scoreboard, but the Greek admitted he was actually aiming “at my opponent’s body, but I missed a lot”.
The ousted fourth seed said he wished the players could come together to resolve Kyrgios’ antics on the pitch.
“This has to stop. It’s not okay. Someone has to sit down with him,” Tsitsipas said.
“I’m not used to playing this way. But I can’t just sit there, act like a robot and act like someone who’s completely cold and ignorant.
“It’s happened three, four times now. OK, once I understand, but when it starts happening two, three, four times it really gets on your nerves.
“Because you’re doing your job there and there’s noise coming from the other side of the track for no reason at all.
“Every point I played today I feel like something was going on on the other side of the net.
“I’m trying not to get distracted by that because I know it could be intentional, because he can definitely play in a different way and that’s his way of manipulating the opponent and making you feel distracted in a way.
“There is no other player who does this. There is no other player who is so upset and frustrated with anything.
“I really hope all players can come up with something and make this a cleaner version of our sport, that this kind of behavior is not accepted, not allowed and not tolerated.”
However, Kyrgios doubted the locker room would turn against him and said Tsitsipas would never be man enough to confront him directly.
“He’s so soft. To come in here and say I bullied him, that’s just soft,” Kyrgios said.
“If he’s affected by that today, that’s what’s holding him back. Because someone can just do that and that’s going to throw him off his game. I just think it’s soft.
“I’m good in the locker room. I have many friends, just to let you know. I’m actually one of the most loved. I’m ready.
‘He’s not nice. Let’s put that there.’
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