I’m sure you all know what happened between umpire Mohamed Lahyani and Nick Kyrgios on Thursday. As it stands, all the talk is about Lahyani, but we have to realise just what caused the incident to happen in the first place: Nick Kyrgios’ tanking. The thing is this isn’t the first time he’s supposedly tanked (which I’ll go more into later). In fact, it’s not even the first time he’s done anything completely unacceptable in the sport.
Over the years he’s actually done so many disrespectful things that it’s honestly reached a point where you wonder how so many people can still consider him “good for the game” or “colorful,” as if it’s a good thing. In this very same match the Australian also faked an injury, calling out the trainer, which is what one does when either carrying an injury or is ill. In Kyrgios’ case guess which of the two it was? Neither. The trainer came out and the former World #13 told him there’s nothing wrong, patted him on the back, then left.
Sure, he’s been fined a few times for the ridiculous stuff he’s done, but what has losing small amounts of money (relative to his earnings) really changed in Kyrgios? Nothing. Here’s a long list of quite disrespectful things he’s done in just a few years on tour and precisely why he’s not good for the game:
We’ll start with the tanking I mentioned earlier. On Thursday against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, the Australian found himself a set and break down without giving a bother about the match. He was hitting clueless shots, looked completely disinterested, wasn’t running after shots, hit into the net constantly, and dtayed in the same place during rallies–all obvious signs of someone who doesn’t want to be on court. He even told the umpire “I’m not feeling it.” Not “feeling it” is one thing–every player has bad days, but not trying is something else.
This isn’t the far from the first time this has happened either. It’s happened so often these past few years I could give you countless examples. I won’t go that far back though, what I will do is just mention a few of his recent events. In his third round match at Wimbledon against former World #4 Kei Nishikori, he found himself losing the first set 6-1 in just 16 minutes, missing sitters and easy shots with his typical tanking and not-bothered attitude. That’s right, at the biggest event in the sport, Kyrgios decided tanking was the best option. After the match he even said “I just didn’t feel good,” as if it explains the lack of effort. Even stranger, despite not being fully fit for Roland Garros, one of the reasons he didn’t want to risk his body at that event was because the “grass season is around the corner”.
The same can be said about his last event before the US Open, in Cincinnati. The 23-year old took World #3 Juan Martin Del Potro to a final set after winning a close second set. In the third he was immediately broken, the first break of the match, and continued after that in a fashion of not caring or trying to get himself back into the set, missing obvious sitters and obviously just wanting to get off court.
In a previous match the same event against Croatian Borna Coric, he even admitted to outright tanking. In the second set when he went a break down ,he found himself being sarcastic to fans and telling his team “you’ll never see a bigger tank than these next three games.” All of this just further adding to other odd things we saw in the same event, such as him coming on court in basketball shoes without tennis shoes packed.
Attacking Umpires, Linespeople, and Journalists
At Wimbledon back in 2015 there was an incident with an umpire–funnily enough the same umpire as Thursday, Mohamed Lahyani. This time, however, was very different. Kyrgios shouted out “dirty scum,” and many thought it was aimed at Lahyani. In the press conference after Kyrgios however denied it claiming it was to himself, but then responded to a question asking why he called himself that with “because I can.” Either way, he was fined for such a pathetic comment.
Unfortunately, this attitude has continued with linespeople. Against Aljaz Bedene at a previous US Open, the Australian ran into one. Immediately afterwards he said to the umpire “f***ing move” in regards to what he thinks the linesperson should have done. He further makes an ageist comment of “that’s why you can’t have guys 80 plus being line umpires,” something that should have been made into a far bigger deal at the time and is quite honestly, utterly disgusting. If you even watch the video you can even see that the linesperson didn’t do much wrong; he was moving back to his position whilst not seeing the player. As sad as it is, he’s also “bullied” an innocent ballkid before over a poor throw before claiming he was “joking.”
Another gem this week features Ben Rothernberg, a tennis writer for the New York Times and one of the most prominent English-speaking tennis journalists in the world. With Rothernberg praising 19-year old Toronto finalist, Stefanos Tsitsipas’ videos, Kyrgios felt the need to respond with a gif of a man shaking his head. This further led to Kyrgios asking “Wait a minute? Who are you?” to Rothernberg despite being the one who replied to the writer in the first place. This continued with the Aussie saying “Hahaha no I’m good, I’ve gotten my daily entertainment out of you” when Rotherberg asked him out to talk over cupcakes. Most pathetically, he then attacked the build of the writer calling him “chubs.” How on Earth is it all right to body shame someone like that?
We’ve seen it all from Nick Kyrgios, from telling a fan “get off your f***ing phone” to telling other fans “shut the f*** up.” This extends further with the World #30 on Twitter, where he’s at times personally attacked fans before deleting the tweets. A few of these instances include telling a woman she’s no one as well as telling a male tennis fan he has to “pull himself off” in response to being tweeted that he struggles to win sets against Andy Murray.
What’s even worse than all of this were his actions at Queens this year that disgusted many and got him fined. At the London event Nick Kyrgios was seen simulating a sex act on live television with a water bottle. One of the broadcasters, BBC, apologised for what viewers had seen. When you consider that Kyrgios once said he wants to be a role model to kids you wonder just what he was thinking when doing something so immature and stupid in front of thousands of kids watching at home and in the stadium.
None of this should be surprising to anyone though; the guy has never had respect for fans of the sport. In Shanghai two years ago, Kyrgios lost to qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-3 6-1, another match where he was fined for “lack of best efforts”–in other words, tanking. After the match he said that he didn’t care or take any responsibility to those who pay to see his matches even going as far as “I don’t owe you anything” and it “doesn’t affect how I sleep at night.”
Attacking Other Players
Saving the “best: for last, we have Kyrgios’ incidents with fellow tennis players. At the 2015 Montreal Masters, this year’s US Open 30th seed told Stan Wawrinka, “Kokkinakis (a fellow tennis player) banged your girlfriend (Donna Vekic), sorry to tell you that, mate,” in which the Swiss star responded after the match saying that it’s “So disappointing to see a fellow athlete and colleague be so disrespectful in a way I could never even imagine.”
Yesterday, he only further reminded people of the incident by attacking Donna Vekic again, directly this time. The WTA star commented on the Lahyani and Kyrgios incident by replying “Didn’t know umpires were allowed to give pep talks,” to which the Australian replied “Don’t be salty that you are out of the US Open” before, like always, deleting his insult, this time in under a minute. He then had another go with a somewhat less rude reply before also deleting that. Finally settling for “I shouldn’t have tweeted so quickly after the match. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but I can assure you it wasn’t coaching,” not even apologising to the 22-year-old Croatian. Later in the day Stan Wawrinka posted a classy response to Kyrgios’ antics.
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) August 30, 2018
In another case of Kyrgios deleting tweets, it happened once again in March when his good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis was playing Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. The four-time ATP winner tweeted that he wanted Kokkinakis to win because “Verdasco is the saltiest dude” for no apparent reason. The former World #7 then replied saying that if you have the courage to tweet an insult to a fellow player you should also have it to not delete it. Continuing to be classless, Kyrgios responded with “I would honestly have told it to Fernando’s face, the reason I deleted my previous tweet was because I didn’t want to cause unwanted attention, but I’m just gonna leave this here. Thanks for blocking me, I’m sure that took a lot of courage.” Just a few days ago he once again fired shots at the Spaniard on Twitter, again out of the blue.
Let’s be real, very believable because it is verdasco lol https://t.co/xFSg0aU8qj
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) August 29, 2018
As mentioned before, Kyrgios responded to a tweet featuring Stefanos Tsitsipas in negative light. This could very well be linked to just last week Tsitsipas was praising the beauty of the variety of sounds in New York, in which Kyrgios replied “da fuq.” Like you probably guessed by now, he also deleted that tweet. It might not be too farfetched to say this is borderline bullying of the Greek 20-year-old and they aren’t the best of friends.
The last thing I want to mention is one of his comments on Instagram this time. He said “dude got 3 games in the last 2 sets,” talking about his previous opponent Herbert. It’s just very disrespectful, especially after how classy Herbert was after the whole incident not even attacking the umpire but instead claiming “I think he (Lahyani) made a mistake. I mean, he’s human, I’m human too.”
There you have it: he tanks matches, attacks players, fans, umpires, linespeople, and journalists, as well as fakes injuries. So I ask you, how is he “good for the game”? He may have a flashy game capable of beating the best in the world, but just because of this we shouldn’t overlook the rest of the package like so many do. He’s most definitely the most disrespectful top 30 player I’ve ever seen and what I consider to be a disgrace to tennis like I’m sure many others of you also do.
I’m going to summarise this whole piece using one of Nick Kyrgios’ own quotes, “It’s a circus.” Except this time, I’m referring to him.
This is an Opinion piece. As such, it does not necessarily reflect the views of anyone at LWOT other than the author.
Embed from Getty Images