Nick Kyrgios, as widely known for his temper tantrums as his tennis skills, erupted in a profane tirade during a second-round match Thursday against Norway’s Casper Ruud, tossing a chair in his best Bobby Knight impersonation and walking off the court at the Italian Open in Rome.
Kyrgios and Ruud had split the first two sets and Ruud had broken Kyrgios’s serve for a 1-1 tie in the third when something — it was not immediately clear what — set Kyrgios off. He unleashed a torrent of f-bombs and was called for a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct by the chair umpire. Because he’d had an earlier code violation, he was penalized a game, further whipping up his emotions. (You can see the NSFW version here.)
With that, he was off. He threw his racket, dropped another f-bomb or two as he headed for his chair, kicked at a water bottle and then tossed a chair as the umpire called “referee to court.” Kyrgios muttered, “I’m done. I’m f------ done.”
About that, he was right. As he left, he shook hands with the umpire and with Ruud, who was leading 6-3, 6-7 (5), 2-1 when the match was interrupted. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had defaulted or retired from the match, the Associated Press reported, citing the ATP Tour. The ATP said that Kyrgios will lose $33,635 in prize money from the tournament and 45 ATP points. Further punishment is possible.
Ruud, a Norwegian qualifier ranked 76th in the world, celebrated his victory by default and Kyrgios posted a video of that celebration on Twitter, writing “Hahahahaha.” Ranked 36th in the world, the 24-year-old Kyrgios departed Foro Italico without speaking to reporters, letting his tweet do the talking.
So ended the latest installment of Nick Kyrgios vs. the world. In March, he got into a spat with a fan who was heckling him at the Miami Open. In 2016, he was suspended eight weeks by the ATP Tour for a lack of effort in a match and insulting fans at the Shanghai Masters. The previous year, Kyrgios was fined $12,500 and suspended 28 days for his comments to Stan Wawrinka and about Wawrinka’s girlfriend during a match in Montreal. He was strongly criticized for deciding not to play in the Olympics and he has frequently gotten into it with the game’s top players.
He already wasn’t winning any popularity contests among his colleagues in Rome, not after attacking Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 player in the world, for his “cringeworthy” postmatch celebrations, and not after accusing Rafael Nadal of having a “super salty” attitude.
“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger [Federer],” he said of Djokovic this month on the “No Challenges Remaining” podcast, according to ESPN. “For me personally — I don’t care right now, I’ve come this far — I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him. This whole celebration thing [blowing kisses to fans] that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy.
"He’s an unbelievable player, he’s a champion of the sport; one of the greatest we’ll ever see. He probably will, honestly, I reckon he will get the Grand Slam count, I reckon he will overpass Federer. [But] we’re talking about a guy who pulled out of the Australian Open one year because it was too hot. No matter how many Grand Slams he wins, he will never be the greatest for me.
"Simply because, I’ve played him twice and like, I’m sorry, but if you can’t beat me, you’re not the greatest of all time. Because if you like look at my day-to-day routine and how much I train and how much I put in, it’s zero compared to him.”
The bad blood with Nadal flashed after Kyrgios won a taut match at the Mexican Open in February. Nadal said then that Kyrgios “lacks respect for the crowd, his opponent and towards himself” and said that Kyrgios “has the talent to win Grand Slams — [be] a player who can fight for the top rankings — but there’s a reason he is where he is.”
Kyrgios hasn’t forgotten. On the podcast, he called Nadal “my polar opposite, like, literally my polar opposite. And he’s super salty. Every time I’ve beaten him . . . when he wins, it’s fine. He won’t say anything bad, he’ll credit the opponent, ‘He was a great player.’ But as soon as I beat him, it’s just like, ‘He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game’.
"And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? I literally played this way when I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed . . . When you beat me in Rome here a couple of years ago, nothing changed; I was the same person.’ It’s not a good look for you, I feel. And then Uncle Toni [Nadal] came out saying, ‘He lacks education.’ I’m like, ‘Bra, I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I’m very educated. I understand that you’re upset I beat your family again’.”
Read more from The Post: