Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has been accused of “giving up” and “tanking” his third round match at Wimbledon, in what’s just the latest in a string of setbacks for the young player.
The 23-year-old suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who took home the 6-1 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 win in just 1hr 37mins. Kyrgios was looking in good form ahead of the grass court clash, but quickly descended into turmoil when Nishikori broke his serve in the first game.
Looking like he’d rather be somewhere else at some points, Kyrgios was down 5-1 in the first set when he fired off a 215kph second-serve double-fault on break point.
“He kind of gave up,” ex-British Davis Cup star Andrew Castle said on the BBC after Kyrgios surrendered the opening set in 16 minutes.
“What we’ve got here is Kyrgios sort of tanking,” another commentator added.
In his post-match press conference, Kyrgios said his nerves got the better of him and he was “pissed off” that he’d “panicked” instead of keeping a cool head.
“I felt great this morning but as soon as I got out there, I just didn’t feel good,” he told reporters. “I don’t know what it was. I mean, he played well. I always find it tough playing him.
“But I was pretty uptight. A lot of nerves. I just struggled with a lot of things. I just never settled. Obviously getting broken first game didn’t help me. I just kind of panicked. Everything kind of just went south, I guess.
“I almost couldn’t move. My footwork was terrible. I kind of panicked a little bit. I don’t know. I don’t really know how to describe it. Not much was going through my mind. I’m p****d off, of course. I wanted to do well.”
The match wasn’t without the usual show of outbursts from the fiery player either. He was issued warning for unsportsmanlike conduct after smashing the ball into the air when conceding set point in the second, and was told by the umpire to slow down when he began to serve before the ball boys had even returned to their positions.
The disappointing loss comes just one day after former women’s champion Marion Bartoli blasted Kyrgios and fellow hot-headed player France’s Gael Monfils for their “pathetic” attitudes and work ethics that “just not good enough to win a grand slam”.
“It seems like they can’t grow up, they can’t become men and they can’t take charge of their own lives,” she told the BBC.
“I truly hope Nick will be able to get it together at some point. I don’t know what he needs. He’s going to waste his life if he keeps on acting like that.”
Despite being in the midst of a Grand Slam, it didn’t take long for Kyrgios to bite back, taking to social media to to share a scathing response, claiming Bartoli is just attempting to remain “relevant”.
“Who are you to judge the way we go about things? Who are you to tell us how to do things, when u have no idea what we’ve been through?” he wrote on Instagram.
“Stop assuming you know what’s best for others when you think you’ve had a little success.. we get it, we know you have to remain relevant, but I’ll give you a heads up, we don’t care what you have to say.”