Nick Kyrgios’s first-round Wimbledon escape has been overshadowed by his on-court conduct after the Australian confessed to spitting towards a spectator.
The Australian admitted he spat towards a spectator – whom he called “disrespectful” – and also called a lineswoman a “snitch”.
Kyrgios said he was fed up with being verbally and racially taunted after claiming to be the subject of more abuse during his tense five-set first-round win over British world No.219 Paul Jubb on Tuesday.
He made no apologies when asked to confirm if he deliberately spat in the direction of the heckler after the match.
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“Of one of the people disrespecting me, yes,” Kyrgios said, following his 3-6 6-1 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 win on court 3.
“I would not be doing that to someone who was supporting me.
“I’m OK with receiving a lot of it. But what I don’t understand is as soon as I give it back, for instance in Stuttgart I gave it back, I got a game penalty.
“Today, as soon as I won the match, I turned to him… I’ve been dealing with hate and negativity for a long time, so I don’t feel like I owed that person anything.
“Like, he literally came to the match to literally just, like, not even support anyone really. It was more just to, like, stir up and disrespect.
“That’s fine. But if I give it back to you, then that’s just how it is.”
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Kyrgios spent much of the three-hour, five-minute encounter complaining to the chair umpire about sections of the crowd and also took aim at on-court officials.
Australian sport’s most polarising figure he said he had no regrets calling one lineswoman a “snitch”.
“No, why? That’s what she did,” Kyrgios said.
“I didn’t do anything and she went to the umpire and told her something that I didn’t say. That’s called whistleblowing. Factually what happened.”
The 27-year-old told another lineswoman to “get off the court” after successfully challenging her incorrect call, then claimed she was “the worst I’ve ever seen”.
Kyrgios, though, denied telling another linesperson: “You’re in your 90s, you can’t see the ball.”
“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?
“Factually, does someone have better eyesight when they’re younger.”
While he wasn’t accusing anyone of being racist on Tuesday, Kyrgios said he’d been the victim of it far too often during his career.
“A lot of disrespect was being thrown today from the crowds,” said the two-time grand slam quarter-finalist.
“I’m just starting to think that it’s normal when it’s really not.
“I didn’t say anything to the crowd until they started just every time I came down to the far end, people just going. It’s just I don’t know if it’s normal or not.”
Kyrgios, of Greek and Malaysian descent, even suggested Australia was a racist nation.
“I’ve grown up in Australia, so I definitely know what racism is,” he said.
“I feel like it’s a battle, constant battle, coming from that place and dealing with it.”
Kyrgios felt compelled to speak out because “I just think spectators in general think there’s just no line there any more”.
“They can just say something and they film it and then they laugh about it. It’s like that could actually hurt someone’s feelings.”
Feeling he and his family had been targeted on social media for too long, Kyrgios rejected an insinuation that he’d at times been equally as disrespectful to umpires during his turbulent career.
“If we go through my Instagram compared to an umpire’s, it’s disgusting some of the things I deal with,” he said.
“Like my brother has alopecia, and they joke about him being a cancer patient. I doubt the umpires are dealing with that.”