‘Bad guy’ Kyr­gios hits back at Mr ‘knows ev­ery­thing’ Johnny Mac

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

KEEP QUIET: Nick Kyr­gios could not si­lence the boo-bri­gade as he blew a two-set lead to lose to Ital­ian An­dreas Seppi in five sets in their sec­ond round Aus­tralian Open match. NICK KYR­GIOS hit back at John McEn­roe’s sug­ges­tion that he had stopped try­ing late in his de­feat at the Aus­tralian Open yesterday, sar­cas­ti­cally sug­gest­ing the ten­nis great turned TV pun­dit “knows ev­ery­thing”.

The 21-year-old Aus­tralian blamed a knee in­jury and poor con­di­tion­ing for his lack of mo­bil­ity around the court to­wards the end of the five-set sec­ond-round de­feat by Ital­ian An­dreas Seppi.

Clearly upset af­ter blow­ing a two-set lead and fail­ing to con­vert a fifth-set match point, Kyr­gios bri­dled when in­formed that McEn­roe had said he had stopped try­ing and that it was “a black eye for the sport”.

“Well, my body was sore. I was hurt­ing,” the14th seed said. “I mean, John McEn­roe, was it John McEn­roe? Good on him. Great ca­reer. Good on him.”

Kyr­gios’s 2016 sea­son was ended by an ATP sus­pen­sion for “not try­ing” at the Shang­hai Masters, a ban that was cur­tailed when he agreed to see a sports psy­chol­o­gist.

It was not the first time McEn­roe had crit­i­cised Kyr­gios’s at­ti­tude, ei­ther. Af­ter a list­less ef­fort in his loss to Andy Mur­ray at Wim­ble­don last year, the Amer­i­can said Kyr­gios had to act fast be­fore his prob­lem got “chronic and ir­repara­ble”. Yesterday’s crit­i­cism clearly stuck in Kyr­gios’s craw and he re­turned to it when asked to describe the pain in his knee.

“I don’t know, mate. Ask Johnny Mac,” he said. “He knows ev­ery­thing.”

Kyr­gios again re­ferred re­porters to McEn­roe when asked whether he had been in touch with his sports psy­chol­o­gist this week.

“Johnny Mac will know, mate. Just talk to him. He knows ev­ery­thing.”

The un­doubt­edly tal­ented world No 13 said the loss to Seppi had taught him that he needed to re­visit his de­ci­sion not to work with a coach.

“The coach is al­ways a ques­tion mark for me,” he said.

Al­though given rous­ing sup­port by the par­ti­san crowd on Hisense Arena for most of the match against Seppi, there was a re­minder of how he di­vides his com­pa­tri­ots with a few boos af­ter his de­feat.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s not the great­est thing to hear. Pretty banged up, my body,” he said. As for the rough treat­ment he gets at the hands of the lo­cal me­dia, Kyr­gios feigned to have no com­plaints in that de­part­ment.

“No. I de­serve it,” he said. “I de­serve it. I’m a bad guy.”

Mean­while, An­gelique Ker­ber cel­e­brated her 29th birth­day with a shaky 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-2 win over Ca­rina Wit­thoeft.

In to­day’s matches, Mi­los Raonic needs no re­mind­ing about the threat Gilles Muller will pose in their sec­on­dround, hav­ing lost both of their pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters. The pair will meet on Mar­garet Court Arena, with Lux­em­burger Muller seen as a dan­ger­ous floater in the draw hav­ing reached a ca­reer high of 28 in the rank­ings and fresh off his first tour­na­ment vic­tory in Syd­ney last week.

Men’s cham­pion No­vak Djokovic will be look­ing to step up his per­for­mance, af­ter he was tested by Fer­nando Ver­dasco in the first round, when he faces Uzbek jour­ney­man De­nis Is­tomin on Rod Laver Arena. Spain’s Rafa Nadal should be wary of 2006 fi­nal­ist Mar­cos Bagh­datis in the last game on the main show­court, which fol­lows Ser­ena Wil­liams’ tie with Lu­cie Sa­farova. Bri­ton Johanna Konta, who opens pro­ceed­ings on Rod Laver, also will need to be wary of power-hit­ting Ja­panese teenager Naomi Osaka. – Reuters

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