Nick Kyrgios Booed by Fellow Aussies During Melt Down at the Australian Open

"{Kyrgios} could be the best player in the world, but mentally he's No. 200 in the world," said John McEnroe.

by Patrick Sauer
Jan 18 2017, 8:45pm

Things got downright weird in Melbourne yesterday, which is still today, because their toilets flush the wrong way and tennis is a cruel cruel mistress no matter the hemisphere.

Australian native Nick Kyrgios lost in supreme meltdown fashion in both play and demeanor, leading to John McEnroe confessing, "Even I'm at a loss for words." He wasn't, of course, adding, "{Kyrgios} could be the best player in the world, but mentally he's No. 200 in the world... When he goes through those periods when he's not competing, it's just a black eye for the sport. And it's a black eye for him."

(Give the kid credit, he had a solid comeback during his post-match press conference when asked about McEnroe's comments, "John McEnroe, was it John McEnroe? Good on him. Great career. Good on him.")

If you are unfamiliar, Kyrgios is a supremely gifted 21-year-old Australian who has real issues giving a shit. To the point where he was fined and suspended by the ATP for tanking the Shanghai Masters last fall, going so far as asking the ump to call time so he could go home.

The Kyrgios conundrum is perfectly encapsulated with the clip of his pointless inexplicable 'tweener against today's opponent, Andreas Seppi. Keep in mind this is a second-round match in which Kyrgios, No. 13 in the world, held a two-set lead over an Italian journeyman whom he had to break to stay alive against in a Grand Slam in his own goddamn country.

At that moment, Aussies weren't cheering, they were stunned. Normally going between the gams brings a roar. On the ESPN broadcast, Brad Gilbert said he needed to do push-ups to get his senses aligned after witnessing it. Sure, Kyrgios won the point but the 'tweener said more about his shaky mental makeup than some sort of Roy McAvoy Tin Cup pursuit of perfection.

After the match, Kyrgios was booed by his countrymen.

"It was not the greatest thing to hear," he told reporters after the match.

He later added: "I didn't have the best preparation. It's on me...My body is not in good enough shape."

Kyrgios blowing it 1-6, 6-7 (7-1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 did have a glorious outcome for tennis fans, at least those who aren't from Down Under. Guardian writer Russell Jackson's match re-cap of perfectly composed British snark is a brilliant imperial pint of imperious prose. Enjoy:

Down the Hatch: "In the lead-up to this match Nill Kyrgios – mother of the great local hope – claimed a more settled routine and greater understanding of fame's fickle embrace had helped both son and family deal better with his three-ringed circus life on tour; more time in hotel rooms near family and his calming Playstation, less time out and about as the centre of attention.

Cut to tonight, and the world No13 self-sabotaging his campaign before it had even begun. Kyrgios' pre-match routine must have been a quick game of Grand Theft Auto."

Have Another Pull: "What the general public make of all this will be achingly predictable, because the fifth set was a public trial Kyrgios could never win. But when you pay for a ticket to watch him you're signing up for one of two equally fascinating sights; a fully-fledged, flame-throwing tennis talent or sporting self-immolation. If you want the gap in between, head to the outside courts."

Bottom's Up: "Seppi is a bit like beetroot dip – very unlikely to make your night but a reliable performer. Twice he has reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park, which Kyrgios knew well from enduring another five-set nightmare against him in the round of 16 two years back."

One More For the Road: "Then it all went irrevocably Kyrgios-shaped: shortly before Seppi held to make it 3-3 the Australian entered into prolonged tirade – directed mostly at his courtside entourage but also, as always, himself.

Already the outbursts had earned Kyrgios censure from the chair umpire, now they entirely broke what had seemed a quite unrealistically long spell of calm, and sent him into a spiral whose immediate result was the concession of a break and one smashed racquet.

Fine, Last One Though, I'm Pissed: "The final disaster struck in the form of the Australian's eighth double fault, which handed Seppi the break he needed to serve it out for a remarkable 10-8 win. If the people of Caldaro ever erect a statue in his honour, it should be made of granite, not bronze. Kyrgios will be lucky if he gets out of town unscathed."

Seppi plays Belgium's Steve Darcis in the third-round.