The Tsitsipas-Kyigios third round Wimbledon match was quite eventful! Four sets of very undignified behavior by both players was laid at Kyrgios’ feet. Headlines ding the troublemaker, part-time tennis player and sledge thrower, an evil bully.
- Nick Kyrgios called ‘evil’ and a ‘bully’ by defeated Wimbledon opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas -CNN
- Nick Kyrgios topples No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in wild, outburst-filled Wimbledon match -ESPN
- After a war on the court, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios engaged in a war of words at Wimbledon… -Tennis.com
- Nick Kyrgios, a Dream and a Nightmare for Wimbledon, Is Winning – The New York Times
- ‘Bully’ Nick Kyrgios calls Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘soft’ after mayhem-filled Wimbledon duel – New York Post
- Nick Kyrgios called ‘evil bully’ by Tsitsipas after stormy encounter – The Guardian
- Kyrgios, Tsitsipas Throw Barbs in Presser After Heated Wimbledon Match – Sports Illustrated
- Nick Kyrgios’ Antics Have Got To Be Curbed – The Daily Mail
These headlines are not surprising. Tennis fans have grown accustomed to the sport’ bias and caricature of Nick Kyrgios. The sport wants to profit from Kyrgios’ magnetic personality and game while holding steadfast to its problematic, inconsistent rules. At the of this kerfuffle, Kyrgios will be fined, Tsisipas coddled and nothing will change. But, the facts must not be misrepresented, irresponsibly framed or disregarded!
Tsitsipas hit a ball into the audience which bounced of a wall and possibly onto the head of a fan. He was not defaulted. He proceeded to become enraged by his opponent’s endless banter with the umpire and supervisors. Tsitsipas admitted to intentionally trying to hit Kyrgios three times. He missed wildly once, but did hit his shoulder on one occasion. Tsitsipas lost 4-6, 3-6, 6-7(9) and was served two code violations for ball abuse. Kyrgios’ endless complaints and an audible obscenity earned him one also.
This is not becoming of the regal, gentleman’s game Wimbledon promotes. But was Tsitsipas’ behavior really any better than Kyrgios’?
In his press conference, Tsitsipas’ lack of self-awareness and intention to pass the blame is clear. He cast Krygios as the problem. Recommending that the players ban together to curb Krygios’ on-court behavior speaks volumes of his privilege. Sure, Kyrgios is not without fault. He can be caustic. His inability to put aside player, fan, umpire or sport issues hinders his game. Worst, his seemingly offensive tactic of enraging his opponents baffles the old guard, while it amuses non-tennis fans and the younger generation.
To listen to John and Patrick McEnroe, ding Kyrgios for a lack decorum and respect for the sport was oh so precious. John has been profiting off his ‘disruptive’ on-court behavior for forty years. If there is any tennis player Kyrgios mirrors, it is John McEnroe! But for this disingenuous duo to call-out Kyrgios’ behavior and suggest that Tsitsipas verbally confront Kyrgios, is the height of hypocrisy.
Bully – a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.Oxford Online Dictionary
Even more infuriating is the sports inability to address the inconsistencies and inequalities Kyrgios rightly points-out. The sport refuses to police itself, preferring instead to use PR to rectify its waning image; they embrace John Lloyd‘s sentiment that Kyrgios should have been defaulted. Fearing untoward behavior at the end of the match, the cameras panned to the stands. Reporters post match questions quickly framed the Kyrigos Is An Evil Bully story. For them Kyrigos is an angry, unhinged athlete. He is more than that. There is gray to this story.
In a Dennis Rodman t-shirt in his post match press conference Kyrgios proved to be tennis’ most effective troll. He calls-out hypocrisy, agitates the old guard and brings new fans to the sport. He earnestly wants tennis to be inviting, equalitarian, more like his beloved basketball. But his intent and message is often lost in his approach. Whether he needs the chaos or simply sees himself as the sport’ most skilled and outrageous player, in the end this will not serve him or his legacy well. In twenty years he will not be sanctioned like John McEnroe becoming the de facto voice of the sport. But sadly, it is not clear that he really cares… Like Monfils, when he decides to really focus only on winning, it maybe too late. And that should sadden all of us!
Whether Kyrigos wants the role of jester, promoter or villain, he is not an evil bully as Tsitsipas claims.
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