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Quote(s) of the Day: Nick Kyrgios sledges “soft” Stefanos Tsitsipas after Wimbledon bullying accusation
The former friends appear to have hit the point of no return after a brutal exchange in insults after their unforgettable four-setter on Court No. 1.
Published Jul 02, 2022
WATCH: Who would thought Kyrgios and Tsitsipas' most entertaining rally would come after the match?
We thought we were here for the handshake, but our popcorn ultimately came in handy when Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas descended on their respective post-match press conferences to trade insults after the Aussie scored a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7) victory over the No. 4 seed to reach the second week of Wimbledon.
The contentious affair kicked into high gear towards the end of the opening set, and only heated up further when Kyrgios stormed back to take second and Tsitsipas responded by firing a ball into the stands; when Kyrgios failed to persuade umpire Damien Dumusois to default his Greek rival, he maintained a running conversation through the start of the third set and drove Tsitsipas to distraction:
Q. Do you think Nick goes over the line with his behavior on the court?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I like what his tennis has to bring to our sport. Like he's very different. That's not a bad thing.
But I don't think there has been a single match I have played with him that he was behaving that way. There comes a point where you really get tired of it, let's say.
The constant talking, the constant complaining. I mean, I'm about to serve, and there is a big gap there that there is no tennis being played, which is the most important thing in the court. We are there to play tennis. We are not there to have conversations and dialogues with other people, except—especially actually, not ‘except’—especially when you really know that the referee is not going to overrule what he decided, you know.
_ It's really silly, in a way. The referee has made a decision. I don't know. It's just like, how are you even going to change his mind? It doesn't work this way. You are there to play tennis. I have had a lot of experience with umpires._
Yeah, it's just like frustrating to see that people just get away with that. It's frustrating.
The typically zen Tsitsipas found himself so fired up that he repeatedly aimed for Kyrgios at net, something he characterized as a response to his former friend’s “bullying behavior”:
Q. Did you think at the end of the match that maybe you wouldn't have liked to shake hands? I saw you did it, but there was something that went through your mind as he shouldn't deserve me to shake hands with him? And also, once I saw that when you mishit a backhand, he shouted, Good shot. Do you remember that? What was your reaction?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yeah, it's constant bullying, that's what he does. He bullies the opponents. He was probably a bully at school himself. I don't like bullies. I don't like people that put other people down.
He has some good traits in his character, as well. But when he also has a very evil side to him, which if it's exposed, it can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him.
Though Kyrgios had initially been willing to set aside their differences in his on-court interview, he arrived to press eager to not only provide context to the circus-like atmosphere Tsitsipas described but also share pages from his proverbial Burn Book.
Q. Do you think that you can win this tournament? If so, are you at all worried that all of the circus—was the word Stef used—could be tiring for you?
NICK KYRGIOS: I feel great. I don't know what he's—like, the circus was all him today. I actually felt great. I feel great physically now. I'm ready to go again if I need to play again tomorrow. I just think he's making that match about me, like he's got some serious issues, like serious.
I'm good in the locker room. I've got many friends, just to let you know. I'm actually one of the most liked. I'm set. He's not liked. Let's just put that there.
So anyway, no, I'm good. I feel good.
Q. You were pretty effusive about Stefanos and Petros afterwards, the last 20 minutes feel like that might not be the case anymore. Do you think you will both brush this off and be friends in two days' time?
NICK KYRGIOS: I don't care. As I said, when I'm back home and you see my everyday and who I'm competing with on the basketball court, these guys are dogs.
The people I'm playing at Wimbledon, they're not—he's that soft, to come in here and say I bullied him, that's just soft. We're not cut from the same cloth. I go up against guys who are true competitors.
If he's affected by that today, then that's what's holding him back, because someone can just do that and that's going to throw him off his game like that. I just think it's soft.
With Tsitsipas out of the tournament, it appears Kyrgios will have the last word for now, but feel free to get more popcorn ready for when this feud inevitably spills onto social media.