Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of a Wimbledon warm-up but it hasn’t stopped him from hitting out at tennis’ latest rule change.
Nick Kyrgios has blasted the ATP after the governing body for men’s tennis announced it would trial “off court” coaching in the second half of the season, as his Wimbledon preparations hit a snag.
Kyrgios withdrew from the Mallorca Championship following a 5-7 7-6 7-6 win over Serbia’s Laslo Djere ahead of next week’s tournament at the All England Club, citing an abdominal injury.
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Kyrgios blazed through last week’s Halle Open, claiming wins over world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and world No. 19 Pablo Carreno Busta in an impressive lead-in to the grass court grand slam.
Considered a dark horse for Wimbledon after returning to the top 50 in the world, Kyrgios admitted after a tight three set loss to eventual champion Hubert Hurkacz that Mallorca would be a “down week, so I’m not gonna worry too much about the result”.
Kyrgios has battled abdominal injuries in the past, including needing to pull out of the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, and this latest episode is a worrying sign ahead of the year’s third major.
As Kyrgios’ Wimbledon preparations continue behind closed doors, he has reacted to the news the ATP would “trial” coaching from the stands — which is prohibited at the moment — for the second half of the year, including the US Open.
The Canberran was upset, saying it would take away the head-to-head battle between players if they get advice from the stands.
“Completely disagree. Loses one of the only unique traits that no other sport had. The player had to figure out things on his own. That was the beauty of it,” Kyrgios tweeted.
“What happens if a high profile player versus a low ranked player who doesn’t have or afford a coach?”
Kyrgios has famously not carried a coach in his entourage, preferring to do his own training, despite the likes of former world No. 1 and seven-time grand slam champion John McEnroe offering his services several times over the years.
Kyrgios previously said he would be a “nightmare” for a coach because he’s “too set in my ways and I just don’t like to listen to advice”.
Serena Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who was working with the American during her infamous 2018 US Open meltdown and admitted to using banned hand signals, has long been outspoken in favour of allowing coaching during matches.
Sharing the ATP announcement, Mouratoglou tweeted: “Congratulations to the ATP for ‘legalising’ a practice that has been going on at almost every match for decades. No more hypocrisy.”
But Aussie legend Todd Woodbridge wasn’t impressed.
The WTA already has a trial in place while the ATP trial will allow coaching from designated seats during qualifying and main draw matches at events starting from July 11.
Verbal and non-verbal coaching will be allowed only if it does not interrupt play or hinder the opponent, with verbal coaching only permitted when the player is at the same end of the court as their mentor.
Hand signals are allowed at any time but coaches may not speak to their player when he leaves the court for any reason.
The trial will run through to the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin in November.
Kyrgios is not the only one unhappy with the call. Rafael Nadal’s coach and former world No. 1 Carlos Moya took exception to the initiative.
“What makes tennis a special sport is that it is the only sport where you are alone against another without help from anyone,” he told Eurosport.
“In the rest of sports you do have that contact in some way, be it with the presence of your coach, through the radio, with the caddie, whatever. That solo battle that the tennis player has, placing the pieces of the puzzle at 180 beats and 20 seconds between points, choosing the correct tactic in each play, is part of the quality of each player.”
Veteran New York Times tennis writer Christopher Clarey weighed in on the debate, tweeting: “Sad day for tennis in my view. And that the US Open is part of it makes it even sadder. Tennis does not need in-match coaching. It just thinks it does.”
Former tennis pro Pam Shriver disagreed. Replying to Clarey, she wrote: “Sad? I would not rank this rule experiment in top 100 of sad things going on in pro tennis in 2022.
“This rule change is in response to terrible enforcement of the no coaching rule and no movement to make enforcement occur. It’s a natural consequence, but it’s not sad imo.”
Kyrgios said he was disappointed to miss the remainder of the Mallorca Championship but wanted to ensure his injury didn’t effect his Wimbledon chances.
“I’m really sorry I’m going to have to withdraw from tonight’s match here in Mallorca,” Kyrgios said in a statement. “I have been playing a lot of great matches lately and unfortunately I woke up with a pain in my abs.
“I went to see the tournament doctor right away and he advised that I don’t play tonight. I really value the Mallorca Championships but I will follow his advice as I don’t want to risk Wimbledon next week.”