LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has said Nick Kyrgios has a “wicked side” after a stormy Wimbledon clash on Saturday in which the victorious Australian called for his Greek opponent to be expelled from the tournament.
The moody match overshadowed the rest of the day six action, which included the end of Iga Swiatek’s 37-game winning streak and a routine win for Rafael Nadal.
Mercurial Kyrgios won 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) in an incident-packed third-round game on Court One.
The contest descended into chaos when a frustrated Tsitsipas kicked the ball into the crowd after losing the second set.
Kyrgios told the referee that Tsitsipas should be kicked out of Wimbledon, recalling the incident at the US Open in 2020 when Novak Djokovic was kicked out of the tournament after hitting a linesman with a ball.
“You can’t kick a ball into the crowd and hit somebody without being sent back,” said the 27-year-old, who received an audible obscenity warning during the game.
He continued his verbal tussle with the referee, clearly confusing Tsitsipas, who was cautioned about the incident and then awarded a penalty point for kicking the ball down the field in frustration.
The bad feeling resurfaced in post-match press conferences, with fourth seed Tsitsipas saying it felt like a “circus”.
“He intimidates opponents,” said the Greek, who admitted trying to kick the ball to Kyrgios.
“He was probably a bully himself at school. I don’t like bullies.
“I don’t like people who put other people down. He also has some good traits in his character, but… he also has a very evil side to him, which if exposed can really do a lot of harm and harm to the people around him.
Tsitsipas said he wanted the players to ‘get together and put a rule in place’ to curb Kyrgios’ behavior.
“There’s no other player who does that,” he said. “There is no other player who is so upset and frustrated with something all the time. He triggers it so easily and so quickly.
But Kyrgios laughed off Tsitsipas’ accusations, describing his opponent as “soft”.
“We are not cut from the same cloth,” he said. “I come up against guys who are real competitors.”
He added: “I’m good in the locker room. I have lots of friends, just so you know. I’m actually one of the most beloved. I’m ready. He is not loved. Let’s just put it there.
Earlier, French veteran Alize Cornet capitalized on an error-strewn performance from Polish women’s world number one Swiatek to triumph 6-4, 6-2.
Swiatek never looked comfortable in the third round, dropping serve five times and making 33 unforced errors.
The 21-year-old hadn’t lost a match since losing to Jelena Ostapenko in February in Dubai, winning her last six tournaments, including the French Open.
“I know I didn’t play tennis well,” said the top seed, who lost the last six games of the game. “I was quite confused about my tactics.
“As a solid player, she used that pretty well. Of course, it was not a good performance on my part.
Second-seeded Nadal, chasing a rare Grand Slam on the calendar, beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a last-16 match against the 21st seed. Dutch series Botic van de Zandschulp.
Australia’s 19th seed Alex De Minaur beat British joker Liam Broady in straight sets and will face Chilean Cristian Garin in the round of 16.
Harmony Tan, who knocked out Serena Williams in the first round, demolished British wild card Katie Boulter 6-1, 6-1 in just 51 minutes to reach the fourth round.
Tan will next face 20th seed Amanda Anisimova, who came from behind to beat French Open runner-up Coco Gauff 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-1 in an all-American tie.
Simona Halep, the 2019 champion, advanced to the round of 16 with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Magdalena Frech.
The Romanian next faces fourth seed Paula Badosa, who beat two-time champion Petra Kvitova 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).