Nick Kyrgios called ‘evil bully’ by Tsitsipas after 'box office' Wimbledon encounter

3 July 2022, 08:38

Nick Kyrgios made it through to the last 16 after the fiery clash on court
Nick Kyrgios made it through to the last 16 after the fiery clash on court. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios has been labelled an 'evil bully' after reaching Wimbledon's last 16 after an ill-tempered win over No 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Kyrgios was cautioned for swearing, while Greek Tsitsipas breached the rules twice for smashing the ball away into the crowd.

Their Court 1 spectators booed loudly in scenes more akin to a football match, and those leaving described the game as everything from "embarrassing" to "absolutely incredible".

Tennis coaches and brothers Alex and Will Page, both from Twickenham, said the players' intense dislike for one another was clear from the sidelines.

Max said: "It was a fiery encounter. Kyrgios, he definitely battled, and he came through, clearly.

"He's a really aggressive player which I think is really good."

When asked what they thought of Tsitsipas striking the ball at spectators, Alex said: "Embarrassing.

"The code violation was absolutely necessary.

"You can't be hitting the ball out of anger, especially at Wimbledon."

Teacher Pippa Gribben, 51, and her daughter Evie Gribben, 18, both from Clevedon, North Somerset, said they loved the drama.

Mrs Gribben said: "It was absolutely incredible - players playing at the top of their game, a bit of tension, a bit of code violation, the crowd love that.

"I felt Kyrgios really got under Tsitsipas' skin, which he's really good at.

"I was hoping we'd have a fifth set, but it ended brilliantly."

Miss Gribben said that she enjoyed the game more than she would have being on Centre Court watching grand slam great Rafael Nadal, who was playing at the same time.

"You could tell there was a lot of tension between them from the first set," she said.

"I wouldn't trade it for the Nadal match, it was an amazing match."

Retired Asda event coordinators from Birkenhead, Merseyside, Wendy Dewhurst, 69, and Carol Morton, 68, said that they are hearing impaired but the crowd was so loud it even felt "booming" to them.

Ms Dewhurst said she thought Kyrgios was "play-acting" and lying on the ground for minutes after a fall "like a football player".

Ms Morton agreed, adding: "It was just a grudge match, and it could have been nasty.

"I had a message from my daughters when we were there, and they said 'it's getting like a football match' too.

"It was naughty. This isn't tennis.

"Roger Federer would never act like that. It was like Ilie Nastase.

"The crowd was booing, that never used to happen."

Tallulah Belle, 48, a teacher from Hackney in north-east London, said the obvious tension between the players sparked battles among the crowd over who they wanted to win.

"I like Kyrgios when he's playing, not when he's having a temper tantrum, but my sister-in-law who was beside me was for Tsitsipas, so we were having our own battle, every point.

"I just find him an exciting player. If you get rid of the ego, he's really talented.

"Tsitsipas plays sick tactics and so does Kyrgios, so they were well matched today.

"No-one wants a straightforward match, drama makes it exciting.

"I think Kyrgios plays to the cameras.

"If there's no drama then I don't think he can pull out his best tennis. It fires him up to have drama."

Ms Belle added that she thought the amount of booing was "unnecessary".