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‘This isn’t tennis’ – crowd split over fiery match between Kyrgios and Tsitsipas

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 02/07/2022 Laura Parnaby

The Wimbledon crowd has been split over whether they enjoyed a drama-filled match between two fiery players who picked up three code violations between them.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios was cautioned for swearing, while Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas breached the rules twice for smashing the ball away into the crowd.

Athens-born Tsitsipas slammed Kyrgios as “a bully” with “a very evil side” after the game.

Nick Kyrgios falls to the floor during his third round singles match against Stefanos Tsitsipas (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire) © Provided by Evening Standard Nick Kyrgios falls to the floor during his third round singles match against Stefanos Tsitsipas (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)

The 23-year-old player told journalists: “He (Kyrgios) 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.”

When Tsitsipas’ comments were put to Kyrgios, he laughed, and said: “I’m not sure how I bullied him – he was the one hitting balls at me.”

The pair’s Court 1 spectators booed loudly in scenes expected of a football match, and those leaving described the game as everything from “embarrassing” to “absolutely incredible”.

Tennis coaches and brothers Alex and Will Page, both from Twickenham, said the players’ intense dislike for one another was clear from the side-lines.

Brothers Alex (left) and Will Page at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA). © Provided by Evening Standard Brothers Alex (left) and Will Page at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA).

Max said: “It was a fiery encounter.

“Kyrgios, he definitely battled, and he came through, clearly.

“He’s a really aggressive player which I think is really good.”

When asked what they thought of Tsitsipas striking the ball at spectators, Alex said: “Embarrassing.

“The code violation was absolutely necessary.

“You can’t be hitting the ball out of anger, especially at Wimbledon.”

Teacher Pippa Gribben and her daughter Evie Gribben outside Court 1 at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA). © Provided by Evening Standard Teacher Pippa Gribben and her daughter Evie Gribben outside Court 1 at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA).

Teacher Pippa Gribben, 51, and her daughter Evie Gribben, 18, both from Clevedon, North Somerset, said they loved the drama.


Video: Nick Kyrgios calls Wimbledon line judge a 'snitch' that 'has no fans' in opening match (The Independent)

Nick Kyrgios calls Wimbledon line judge a 'snitch' that 'has no fans' in opening match
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Mrs Gribben said: “It was absolutely incredible – players playing at the top of their game, a bit of tension, a bit of code violation, the crowd love that.

“I felt Kyrgios really got under Tsitsipas’ skin, which he’s really good at.

“I was hoping we’d have a fifth set, but it ended brilliantly.”

Miss Gribben said that she enjoyed the game more than she would have being on Centre Court watching grand slam great Rafael Nadal, who was playing at the same time.

She told PA: “I wanted Kyrgios to win.

“You could tell there was a lot of tension between them from the first set.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the Nadal match, it was an amazing match.”

Wendy Dewhurst and Carol Morton at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA). © Provided by Evening Standard Wendy Dewhurst and Carol Morton at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA).

Retired Asda event coordinators from Birkenhead, Merseyside, Wendy Dewhurst, 69, and Carol Morton, 68, said that they are hearing impaired but the crowd was so loud it even felt “booming” to them.

Ms Dewhurst said she thought Kyrgios was “play-acting” and lying on the ground for minutes after a fall “like a football player”.

Ms Morton agreed, adding: “It was just a grudge match, and it could have been nasty.

“I had a message from my daughters when we were there, and they said ‘it’s getting like a football match’ too.

“It was naughty. This isn’t tennis.

“Roger Federer would never act like that. It was like Ilie Nastase.

“The crowd was booing, that never used to happen.”

Tallulah Belle at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA). © Provided by Evening Standard Tallulah Belle at Wimbledon (Laura Parnaby/PA).

Tallulah Belle, 48, a teacher from Hackney in north-east London, said the obvious tension between the players sparked battles among the crowd over who they wanted to win.

She told PA: “I like Kyrgios when he’s playing, not when he’s having a temper tantrum, but my sister-in-law who was beside me was for Tsitsipas, so we were having our own battle, every point.

“I just find him an exciting player. If you get rid of the ego, he’s really talented.

“Tsitsipas plays sick tactics and so does Kyrgios, so they were well matched today.

“No-one wants a straightforward match, drama makes it exciting.

“I think Kyrgios plays to the cameras.

“If there’s no drama then I don’t think he can pull out his best tennis. It fires him up to have drama.”

Ms Belle added that she thought the amount of booing was “unnecessary”.

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