Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios couldn’t resist taking a swipe at rival Stefanos Tsitsipas ahead of the highly-anticipated US Open.
Kyrgios defeated Tsitsipas in a heated third-round clash at Wimbledon earlier this month, with the Aussie eventually progressing through to the men’s singles final where he faced former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Tsitsipas, who angrily hit a ball into the Court One crowd during the match, was slapped with an AU$14,600 sanction while Kyrgios was fined nearly $6000 for an audible obscenity.
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After the loss, Tsitsipas called his opponent a “bully” with an “evil side”, while Kyrgios labelled the Greek phenom “soft”.
“You get tired of it. The constant talking. The constant complaining. We’re there to play tennis, not to have dialogues,” Tsitsipas told reporters at the time.
“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 … 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.”
On Tuesday, Kyrgios announced that he’d partner with American Jack Sock in the doubles for next month’s Washington Open.
“I’m super excited to see Jack Sock,” he said in an Instagram Live interview with Citi Open.
“We’ve got doubles in DC which I’m super excited about.
“I’ve had Stefanos as a partner there so it can’t get much worse than that.”
Kyrgios, who is currently competing in the Atlanta Open, will also take part in the Southern & Western Open ahead of the US Open, which gets underway on Monday, 29 August.
Earlier this year, the 27-year-old famously won the Australian Open men’s doubles title with compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Last night, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis defeated French duo Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6, 6-3 in their opening Atlanta Open match, while the former will face German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk for his first contest in the singles competition.
“I feel when I made that final at Wimbledon, it’s taken a lot of pressure off my career,” Kyrgios said.
“But I’m going to be my biggest critic, still. I’m still going out there trying to get better at things, my forehand return, the way I’m serving, pushing myself.
“Which is surprising for me. I thought if I got to something like this I’d take a month off, but it’s been motivating.
“I take a lot of confidence, I’m a Grand Slam finalist, I never thought I’d be a Grand Slam finalist. I’ve won a doubles final in a Grand Slam.
“It’s looking good.
“I look back at my career and most would say, and even myself would say, my window was closed on making a Grand Slam final and even contesting for one of those.
“I think Wimbledon is the biggest title ever.
“I said this to my team, if I won Wimbledon, I would have really struggled for motivation. I really don’t know what more I would have to prove as a tennis player.
“You have to be a mental animal to win a Grand Slam. Now I give more respect to Djokovic, Federer and Nadal.
“I played with Novak Djokovic in the final. I felt like he was fresh, like he hadn’t played tennis in the previous two weeks. He didn’t seem shaken for a moment.”