Nick Kyrgios is out of the Australian Open after a four-set loss to Tomas Berdych but, as usual, it was his angry and increasingly boorish antics that dominated discussion.
The Australian lost his temper late in the second set, claiming the match had turned into “a circus” as he berated chair umpire James Keothavong for not clamping down on music he heard playing in the crowd.
Kyrgios’s outburst drew boos from sections of the crowd at Rod Laver Arena who’d clearly had enough of his tantrums. As the scene grew uglier, some interjected with ‘get on with it Nick’, ‘shut up Nick’, even ‘get a tissue Nick’.
After going down two sets to love, the 20-year-old then played a near-flawless third set, only for the sixth-seeded Berdych to claim the only break of the fourth set to win 6-3 6-4 1-6 6-4 in two hours and 27 minutes.
Kyrgios gifted Berdych the victory on his second match point courtesy of a double-fault.
Then, in a final act of churlishness, Kyrgios called Keothavong “a terrible referee” as he was shaking hands with him.
Kyrgios’s demise leaves Bernard Tomic and John Millman as the only Australian men left in the singles draw.
They meet in a third-round clash on Saturday evening.
Kyrgios, a quarter-finalist last year, looked to be perilously close to unravelling in the ninth game of the second set when he repeatedly complained to Keothavong that he was being distracted by music coming from somewhere in the crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
“Do you want to stop? We can stop,” responded Keothavong, although it was unclear whether the Australian heard him.
“Are you ok?” Kyrgios asked him.
“Mate, there is music playing in the crowd and while we are playing – I’ve told you seven times.
“Just answer the question.
“Is music allowed to be played while we are playing? Am I hearing things?
“It’s a circus.”
Shortly afterwards Kyrgios found himself down two sets to love and seemingly in all sorts of trouble.
But the third set was a complete turnaround, with Kyrgios racing to a 5-0 lead before claiming it 6-1.
Games stayed on serve until the 10th game of the final set, when Berdych broke to claim the victory.
Berdych now plays Spain’s No.24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut who upset No.12 seed and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic from Croatia 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.
The Czech was a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2014 and 2015 and a quarter-finalist in each of the three years prior to that.
“It’s a difficult match,” Berdych said of the Kyrgios clash.
“I have already played quite a few of those and I have a lot of experience playing Davis Cup matches or tough matches like that.
“I tried to remain composed and not look too much over the net.”
Dasher charges on
Fist-pumping fan-favourite Daria Gavrilova continued her dream summer to bound into the Australian Open fourth round.
The 21-year-old ball of energy upended seeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 4-6 11-9 in a Friday night thriller to reach the second week of a grand slam for the first time.
Gavrilova backed up her stunning second-round win over dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to take out Mladenovic, the tournament’s 28th seed, in a rollercoaster encounter at Hisense Arena that featured no less than 13 service breaks.
Granted citizenship in November, Gavrilova will next face Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro or former Russian compatriot Elizaveta Kulichkova on Sunday in her audacious quest to end Australia’s 38-year women’s title drought.
The bubbly youngster was unable to contain her excitement after wowing fans at the so-called people’s court for almost three hours.
“I’ve got nothing in my head. I’m just really excited and I want to hug the whole stadium,” Gavrilova beamed.
“I just want to play again. I want to play again on Sunday. I’m just really happy. I can’t explain it.”
– with AAP