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‘They were disrespecting me’ – Nick Kyrgios explains why he spat at spectators

Kyrgios had yet another scrap with fans and match officials

Nick Kyrgios Australia’s Nick Kyrgios reacts during his first round match against Britain’s Paul Jubb (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Another day, another dose of controversy courtesy of Nick Kyrgios. This time it was at Wimbledon, after he came through a five-set match against wild card Paul Jubb 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-5.

Naturally, the Australian began a new feud with a section of the spectators, resulting in him spitting in their direction. He was asked about it in his press conference afterwards, and confirmed he had spat towards “one of the people disrespecting me”, adding that it was deliberate: “I would not be doing that to someone who was supporting me.”

He explained that he felt the harsh treatment he receives from fans was a societal issue rather than specific to a tournament: “I love this tournament. It’s got nothing to do with Wimbledon. I just think it’s a whole generation of people like on social media feeling like they have a right to comment on every single thing with negativity. It just carries on to real life.

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) talks to the chair umpire during a changeover against Adrian Mannarino (FRA) (not pictured) in a first round men’s singles match in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

“Because there’s a fence there, and I physically can’t do anything or say anything because I’ll get in trouble. They just feel the need that they’re just able to say anything they want.”

And he said that he felt that athletes were treated very unfairly by people watching them.

“I’ve never, ever just gone to anyone else’s job and just blatantly spat, disrespected them. I don’t understand why people do that to athletes. Why do they feel the need that that’s acceptable?

“I don’t go into Argos and just start smashing someone at the counter when they’re doing their job. I’ve never done that in my life. I think it’s a level of respect. I don’t care what you do. I’m just saying, why do people?

“It’s happening more and more in sport. Like, spectators are just, I don’t know, so disrespectful to the athletes. I don’t think it’s okay. Have you ever gone into like 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?”

Kyrgios: Officials don’t get abused on social media

However, the fans weren’t the only ones annoying Kyrgios today – he also had words for the officiating team after a squabble with a line judge on the court.

“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,” he said. “Factually people that are younger have better eyesight. Do you not think that’s appropriate? 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?”

This is not a new complaint from him – he has made several suggestions that the standards of officiating in tennis should be improved.

Today, though, even Kyrgios’s anger at the officials came back to social media.

“It goes deeper than that because if I lose a tennis match and it comes down to a call, they’re not getting abused on social media. I have to deal with it. My girlfriend deals with hate messages. My family deals with hate messages. I deal with hate messages – where, for instance, that time in Miami when Carlos Bernardes did that and the whole match turned. Was he dealing with the repercussions? I still deal with that. They just move on like nothing happened. They’re back out there refereeing, umpiring.

“For me the hate messages, they carry way more weight than just that. That’s what people don’t understand. It’s not just, ‘Oh, he made a bad call,’ and I’m just abusing the umpire. I’m frustrated. If I lose this match, you have no idea how much abuse I have to go through, where the umpires don’t go through anything.

“What do they go through?”

Kyrgios called a line judge a “snitch” after they spoke to the umpire about his behaviour and speech, and explained later: “The disrespect is [to] all these spectators that come to see a full stadium with Nick Kyrgios and my opponent. She found it relevant to go to run to the umpire at 30-0 and make it about her. No one was there to see her today, factually.”

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