Tennis

Nick Kyrgios hurls chair, storms off during Italian Open

Tennis bad boy also launches attacks on Nadal (sore loser) and uncle Toni (idiot), Djokovic (cringeworthy)

Australian's firebrand tennis player Nick Kyrgios forfeited his second-round Italian Open clash against Norway's Casper Ruud yesterday, after hurling a chair on to the court.

The controversial figure was serving at 1-1 in the third set when the referee gave a point against him for unsportsmanlike conduct for swearing.

His response was to kick a water bottle before throwing a chair, packing his bag and then storming off court, while mouthing expletives.

Ruud won 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 2-1 to advance to the third round, where he meets Juan Martin del Potro.

Earlier, the Australian had unleashed a series of astonishing verbal volleys at Rafael Nadal (sore loser), the Spaniard's uncle Toni (idiot) and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic (cringeworthy celebrations).

Speaking to tennis writer Ben Rothenberg on the "No Challenges Remaining" podcast, the 24-year-old also disparaged a number of other top professionals and fans who heckle him at his matches.

Kyrgios has had a tense relationship with Nadal, who accused him of "lacking respect for the public, the opponent and himself" after being beaten by the Australian at the Mexican Open in March.

Kyrgios labelled the French Open champion "super salty" - slang for someone who is aggressive or ill-humoured - and only gracious after victory.

"When he wins, it's fine. He won't say anything bad, he'll credit the opponent, 'He was a great player'. But as soon as I beat him, it's just like, 'He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game'," said Kyrgios.

"It's not a good look for you, I feel. And then uncle Toni came out saying, 'He lacks education'. I'm like, 'Bra (brother), I did 12 years at school, you idiot.

"I'm very educated. I understand that you're upset I beat your family again."

Turning his sights on another of the game's modern greats, Kyrgios described Djokovic as "an unbelievable player" and "a champion of the sport".

DJOKOVIC 'DESPERATE'

But he said the Serb was too desperate to be admired like popular Swiss rival Roger Federer.

"I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger," he said.

"For me personally - I don't care right now, I've come this far. I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can't stand him.

"This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it's like so cringeworthy. It's very cringeworthy."

Kyrgios devoted special attention to Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco, calling him "the most arrogant person ever".

He spoke warmly of three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, but also said the Briton's head-to-head record against Djokovic - 11-25 in matches and 2-5 in Grand Slam finals - was "embarrassing".

He gave no apologies for hitting back at spectators who give him a hard time during matches.

"These guys show me no respect. None," he said.

"So why would I show you respect? For instance, when I'm taking matches, I don't care that you paid for tickets. You guys treat me like crap anyway."

Meanwhile, defending champion Nadal crushed France's Jeremy Chardy in straight sets to advance to the third round.

The eight-time Rome champion won 6-0, 6-1.

He was due to meet Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, the 14th seed, earlier this morning for a place in the quarter-finals after rain delays wiped out play on Wednesday.

Also through were top seed Djokovic, who ousted Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-3 and world No. 3 Federer, who beat Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3. - REUTERS, AFP

Tennis