Controversial Aussie Nick Kyrgios has accused a chair umpire of ‘unbelievable bias’ during a fiery start to his French Open campaign.
The world No.19 was far from his best against Italian Marco Cecchinato before prevailing 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 at a wet Roland Garros.
Just a day after a surprise announcement that he would retire from the sport before he reaches the age of 30, Kyrgios was issued with a code violation by experienced umpire Carlos Ramos for screaming for a towel from a ball boy.
“A code violation for saying towel loud? Now I’ve really seen it all,” the 21-year-old said to Ramos.
“What rules am I breaking?”
“That’s f**king bulls**t,” Kyrgios continued, explaining that he was just trying to get the ball boy’s attention and blaming the vocal outburst on the raucous atmosphere inside showcourt one.
He then referenced an incident in Rome last week where world No.1 Novak Djokovic pushed away the arm of chair umpire Carlos Bernardes during a win over Rafael Nadal.
“How can you sit there and give me a code for that?
“But when Djokovic pushes an umpire out of the way that’s alright? Tell the whole world that’s alright.
“Unbelievable bias man. Unbelievable bias.”
The 17th-seeded Australian narrowly claimed the first two sets in tiebreaks before finally breaking Cecchinato in the third set and closing the match out in two hours and 21 minutes. He will meet Dutch lucky loser Igor Sijsling in the second round.
The on-court incident comes just 24 hours after the Wimbledon and Australian Open quarter-finalist told a London newspaper he would walk away from the sport within the next nine years.
“There is zero chance that Nick Kyrgios will be playing tennis when he’s 30-years-old,” Kyrgios told The Sunday Times.
“There’s absolutely no chance. I don’t know how long my career will be but God help me if I am playing tennis at 30. There are so many more things to this world than tennis for me. Not tennis at 30. Please.”
As enigmatic as he is talented, Kyrgios has previously declared that he would much prefer to be a professional basketballer.
In fact, he says he often regrets his decision to choose tennis over basketball as a teenager.
“When I was 14 I had to pick,” he told the newspaper. “My parents were pretty strong pushing me into tennis. They probably thought it was easier to make it in tennis. I definitely liked basketball a lot better. But it didn’t work out too badly, I guess.”
He admitted his on-court motivation waned at times, and has consulted several sports psychologists to try and work through his issues.
“I have seen a couple,” he says. “But I can’t really focus for long enough. I can’t really take it seriously. They are trying to find what fuels you, motivates you. But it’s tough. One week I am motivated, one week I am not. So I walked away. Not my thing.”
He added: “Sometimes I get too creative when I should keep it simple. One of my coaches always used to say, ‘When people watch you, you don’t have to try and go for that extra shot’.
“It keeps me entertained and wanting to play.”
Kyrgios is one of the hottest players on tour, having beaten five top-10 players in 2016 – better than anyone apart from Novak Djokovic.
Aussies John Millman and wildcard Jordan Thompson had their matches postponed due to rain.