Things are never dull when Nick Kyrgios is in town, and the Australian was causing a stir around the Pimms tents at Queen’s Club on Thursday by accusing a line judge of “rigging” his first-round match against Roberto Carballes Baena.
Kyrgios won 7-6 (4), 6-3 but the match, his first of the tournament after severe rain delays, was most memorable for a rant at the match officials he branded a “disgrace.”
The 23-year-old was back on court to face Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, losing 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 7-5. Kyrgios spent the last two games going through the motions.
Throughout the two matches spanning three hours, Kyrgios argued with fans and officials, swiped a ball into nearby houses, threatened to walk off court and even made fun of experienced umpire Fergus Murphy’s headgear.
Kyrgios also played some magical tennis, but his remark near the end of the first set against Carballes Baena, a match played on an outside court, could land him in trouble.
“I’m not going to give 100 percent when I’ve got a linesman rigging the game, I don’t want to play,” Kyrgios said.
He came out fighting in his news conference, saying he and teenager Auger-Aliassime had resorted to “giving each other points” because the line calls were “outrageous.”
Kyrgios said: “What’s the difference? For me doing a code violation, why can’t they get fined for having a terrible day in the chair?
“Like, there’s hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. It’s not a joke. They just think it’s a joke because nothing happens to them after the match. I think it’s ridiculous. Why not have another umpire ready to come in if that guy’s have a terrible day? I don’t understand.
“The calls are horrendous, but I get fined and he gets nothing, a slapped wrist. It’s like a black star. It’s rubbish.”
His second match of the day was relatively calm, although at 5-5 in the third set, he resorted to casual trick shots. The first match was, too, until his opponent served a second serve on set point down at 5-6 that Kyrgios felt was long.
“The ball was this far out [holding hands about a foot apart], no joke. It’s so far long. What are you actually doing up there?” Kyrgios was heard to say. “Bro, it’s taking the piss. I refuse to play.”
Kyrgios was given a code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour before taking a dislike to umpire Murphy’s headgear.
“It’s a joke, man. It’s a serious joke. Like your hat looks ridiculous, also. It’s not even sunny,” he said.
Umpire Murphy said, “Be careful, Nick, be careful what you’re saying” when he used the word “rigging.” Kyrgios said later he had not meant it in that context.
Kyrgios called the tournament supervisor to court in the second set.
“Twenty people over there are saying it was way out. Go and ask them yourself. They’re not going to lie to you, they’ve got no reason to,” he said. “An 80 mph second serve. You actually can’t be that bad.”