Everyone knows Nick Kyrgios, the Australian who can’t stop getting out of tennis headlines. Whilst only 5% of the headlines he makes are actually due to his tennis and results, 95% are seemingly down to his antics both on and off the court, such as: driving while on his phone, imitating a sexual act with a water bottle, ageist comments against a linesperson, swearing and spitting at umpires, personally insulting fans, tanking matches, throwing chairs, and so much more.
But one thing that is mentioned enough is his constant bullying of fellow tennis professionals, and it’s reached a point where something needs to be done about it.
Nick Kyrgios is a bully
Without going into too much detail, let’s just look at a few examples of bullying he has orchestrated in the past. Starting with minor comments, we have him calling world #2 Rafael Nadal “salty” with “no respect to the game”, and more attacks on another Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco, also calling him the “saltiest dude”.
Things get a little more serious when he attacked Karen Khachanov by calling him an “absolute pelican” and also replied to a tweet made by the World #6 admiring New York with a comment of “da fuq,” implying that somehow Stefanos Tsitsipas can’t like what he does before deleting the tweet, something he has done often on the platform. He then called Sascha Zverev “selfish”. One can see he’s made quite a few unnecessary attacks, although you can argue none are overly serious or offensive. Regardless, it’s hard to deny the number of players he’s attacked isn’t overall quite high.
And that’s where we get into the more serious cases. He told Croatian Borna Coric, who only beat him a few weeks ago, his tennis was “boring and brings zero to the game”, and that his brain was “peanut sized“. He’s told Casper Ruud, who unfortunately had to retire during his fourth round match at the Australian Open against Andrey Rublev, that he should say comments made to journalists “to his face” and “wouldn’t run your mouth so much after that”, possibly implying physical violence from the Australian as a response.
Moving on to the famous “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend” in 2015 towards Stan Wawrinka, which is seemingly where this bad boy act all began, we also have him telling current US Open champion Dominic Thiem, who beat him this week, that he didn’t “have the intellectual level to understand” him. Thankfully for Thiem, he had the tennis level to be able to beat him.
Nick Kyrgios vs Novak Djokovic
Now this is the biggest one of the bunch, where the bullying towards one player has gone far and beyond any level that should be allowed. He’s attacked Novak Djokovic’s victory celebration, even going as far as imitating it after losing a match with an empty crowd. Furthermore, he’s called the world #1 a “tool”, “boneheaded”, “cringeworthy”, as well as that he has a “sick obsession to be liked”, that his actions are “as bad as it gets”, and that he “can’t stand him”.
This raises the question: why has all of this been allowed and nothing has been done about it? Well, unfortunately, the media have lapped it up and used it as a way to attract attention to the Australian and create further unnecessary drama between him and his peers. Whenever fellow tennis players do respond to these pathetic comments it’s always about them “hitting back” even if the comments are a simple “I don’t have much respect for him“, as defending Australian Open champion Djokovic said last week. Instead, this was seen as fuel for the media, journalists, and Kyrgios himself to only dig deeper into the Serbian.
Just imagine that the men’s tennis tour was a normal workplace for a second. If you had an employee like Nick Kyrgios, who’s done and said all he has to colleagues, would he still be working there? There’s only so far that bans and fines can do in tennis; those the 25-year-old has received in the past haven’t rectified anything, just given him the slightest tap on the wrist. As mentioned above, the media love the drama. If you just have a look at the ATP it seems they do as well. They see Kyrgios as an easy sell due to all the media attention he gets alongside his “flashy” game and shots. Just look at how much they promote him, at times you would think he was a top five player and Slam champion. But the reality is he’s the World #49 with zero Grand Slam semifinals and zero Masters wins.
Nothing justifies these comments. Bullying is bullying. The fact is tennis players are human beings. They’re just like the rest of us and don’t deserve to be put through this. Headlines should come from results, not insults. That’s exactly why it’s a sport, not reality TV. Being relevant as a sportsman should never be about unsportsmanlike antics, outright attacks, and bullying. How is this setting the right example to kids growing up as fans of the game?
The ATP, ITF, and whoever else should be ashamed that they’ve let Kyrgios get away with so much and for so long.
Main Photo from Getty.