Nick Kyrgios came out on top in a fiery Wimbledon five-setter on Tuesday and blasted fans’ “disrespect” as well as “90-year-old” officials before admitting he spat towards one of his tormentors in the crowd.
The Australian’s 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7 (3/7), 7-5 first-round victory over British wildcard Paul Jubb showcased his brutal shotmaking, which reaped 30 aces and 67 winners.
But the dark side of the 27-year-old crowd-pleaser was also on show.
Even as early as the first set on a packed and raucous Court Three, Kyrgios demanded some fans be removed.
“There were a couple of people not shy of criticising me – this one’s for you,” said the 40th-ranked player. “You know who you are.”
At a later news conference, Kyrgios jousted with reporters as he hit out at the abuse he says he receives on a daily basis, both on and off court.
“Just pure disrespect, just anything,” said Kyrgios, who revealed one fan used an expletive to describe his game.
“Have you ever gone to a supermarket and just started berating someone scanning the groceries? No. So why do they do it when I’m at Wimbledon? Why is that?”
In his testy news conference, Kyrgios was himself accused of lacking respect for the line judges.
He had been overheard saying “90-year olds can’t see the ball”.
“No, I said most of the umpires are older, and I just don’t think that’s ideal when you’re playing a sport of such small margins,” explained Kyrgios.
“Factually, people that are younger have better eyesight. When you’re playing at a sport for hundreds and thousands of dollars, do you not think that we should have people that are really ready to call the ball in or out?
“I hit a ball in, the old man called it out, it was in. So arguably if the guy was 40, he may not have called that out.”
As well as his displeasure with a section of the crowd, Kyrgios also called a line judge “a snitch with no fans”.
“I didn’t do anything and she went to the umpire and told her something that I didn’t say,” said Kyrgios.
“She found it relevant to go to run to the umpire at 30-love and make it about her.”
Kyrgios also admitted that as he celebrated his victory, he spat in the direction of one spectator.
He said it was a deliberate response.
“Yes. I would not be doing that to someone who was supporting me.”
Kyrgios, who stunned Rafael Nadal on his way to the quarter-finals at the All England Club in 2014, arrived at the tournament after semi-final runs in grass-court events in Stuttgart and Halle.
In Stuttgart, he claimed he was racially abused.
“I’ve been dealing with hate and negativity for a long time,” he said Tuesday.
“Some spectators think there’s just no line there anymore. They can just say something and they film it and then they laugh about it.”