He’s one of the most controversial tennis players in Australia and now Nick Kyrgios has come under fire from competitor Rafael Nadal following a match at the Mexican Open on Thursday.
The match was a triumphant win for 23-year-old Kyrgios, who at one point during the match admitted he was sick but didn’t want to forfeit because of the media reaction.
In the end, it was a 3-6 7-6(2) 7-6(6) win for Kyrgios, but the match wasn’t without controversies. The Aussie player told the crowd to shut up at one point, resulting in a code violation. His use of a quick underarm serve while Nadal was standing behind the baseline also drew criticism – despite the player not breaking any rules.
Still, Kyrgios was booed by the audience following the match and received a brief and frosty handshake from Nadal from over the net. Nadal firstly praised his opponent in a post-match press conference in Spanish following his loss, but quickly criticised the world No. 64 player.
“He is a player who has a huge talent could be winning Grand Slams or fight the first position in the ranking and something is where it is,” he said. “He lacks respect for the public, the rival and himself.”
“Es un jugador que tiene un talento descomunal podría estar ganando Grand Slams o pelear la primera posición en el ranking y por algo está donde está. Le falta respeto para el público, el rival y hacia sí mismo”… Rafa Nadal sobre Kyrgios @adrenalina pic.twitter.com/ZC1ysaLT2e
— Josefa Gout (@JosefaGout) February 28, 2019
Kyrgios wasted no time responding to Nadal in his own press conference.
“Raf is different, he can focus on what he needs to do,” he told reporters. “He doesn’t know the journey I’ve been through, he doesn’t know anything about me, so I’m not going to listen at all.”
He later posted a video on Instagram of his match point and frosty handshake with Nadal.
“Don’t doubt yourself, there are plenty of people who will do that for you,” Kyrgios wrote, alongside a robot, ghost and needle emoji. “I can smell the blood when I play this dude.”
Some have speculated on social media that Kyrgios’s comment about smelling the blood was in reference to the Operation Puerto doping scandal that rocked Spanish sport 13 years ago, with investigations still ongoing. A number of Spanish cyclists were found to have been blood doping — where oxygenated blood is injected to give the recipient more energy — while footballers and tennis players were also connected to the scandal. There is no suggestion that Nadal was involved in the scandal.
Still, audiences are divided when it comes to Kyrgios’s attitude.
One person on Instagram wrote: “Nick will never change and that’s unfortunate. He is a troubled man. He can’t deal.”
Another said: “He treats the people who are paying him to watch him like crap. Then he puts his hand up to him ear and wants people to clap for him. He needs to learn to be humble like Nadal.”
Others sided with Kyrgios, with one comment reading: “I like Nick, tremendous talent. I believe in believing in yourself, and think that is exactly what he did! He showed us how to do it. Proud of his win!”
Another comment added: “Well done Nick, you deserved that. Defeat is a bitter pill to swallow for some.”