Nick Kyrgios has branded Stefanos Tsitsipas soft after the vanquished Greek accused the Australian of being a bully and possessing an “evil side” in a bitter postscript to the pair’s explosive third-round Wimbledon clash.
Kyrgios demanded Tsitsipas be defaulted after recklessly a ball into the stands and almost striking a female spectator hitting during his 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) loss on Saturday.
Kyrgios also engaged in a running battle with the chair umpire, with both players receiving code violations for unsportsmanlike conduct during the hateful encounter.
“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,” Tsitsipas said, sparking an ugly war of words.
“He has some good traits in his character as well. But 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.”
Kyrgios laughed off the claims before sarcastically saying he’d be upset, too, if he’d lost to the same opponent four times in as many matches, as Tsitsipas has in their one-sided rivalry.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure how I bullied him. He was the one hitting balls at me, he was the one that hit a spectator, he was the one that smacked it out of the stadium, Kyrgios said after booking a fourth-round date with unseeded American Brandon Nakashima on Monday.
READ MORE: Fiery affair as Kyrgios fights into Wimbledon’s fourth round
“I didn’t do anything. Apart from me just going back and forth to the umpire for a bit, I did nothing towards Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don’t think. I was not drilling him with balls.”
Tsitsipas copped a point penalty at one stage for smashing a return off a Kyrgios under-arm serve into a scoreboard but the Greek conceded he was actually “aiming for the body of my opponent but I missed by a lot”.
The ousted fourth seed said he wished the players could come together to find a solution to Kyrgios’s on-court antics.
“This needs to stop. It’s not okay. Someone needs to sit down with him,” Tsitsipas said.
“I’m not used to play this way. But I cannot just sit there, act like a robot and act like someone that is completely cold and ignorant.
“It has happened three, four times now. Okay, one time I understand, but if it starts happening two, three, four times, it really gets to your nerves.
“Because you’re out there doing your job, and you have noise coming from the other side of the court for no absolute reason.
“Every single point that I played today I feel like there was something going on the other side of the net.
“I’m not trying to be distracted by that because I know it might be intentional because for sure he can play another way and that’s his way of manipulating the opponent and making you feel distracted, in a way.”
“There is no other player that does this. There is no other player that is so upset and frustrated all the time with something.
“I really hope all us players can come up with something and make this a cleaner version of our sport, have this kind of behavior not accepted, not allowed, not tolerated.”
Kyrgios, though, doubted the locker-room would turn on him and said Tsitsipas would never be man enough to confront him directly.
“He’s that soft. To come in here and say I bullied him, that’s just soft,” Kyrgios said.
“If he’s affected by that today, then that’s what’s 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.
“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.”