He's no stranger to controversy, but Nick Kyrgios seems to have crossed a line this time. The incident was splashed all over the newspapers and social media, but just in case you were living under a rock, here's a summary: In his Rogers Cup match against world number four Stan Wawrinka, a microphone heard the Australian saying, "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that mate." The girlfriend here is referred to Croatian tennis player Donna Vekic, who's rumoured to have been with Wawrinka since 2013(when she was 17 and he was still married).
Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyrgios' best friend and Davis Cup teammate, recently broke his silence on the issue by saying that he's endured a few sleepless nights after the incident and stating, "I let him know. I made it pretty clear that he can't be doing that. If he's got a problem, he's got to say it in private. The way he went about it definitely wasn't the right thing and It was pretty crazy what happened. Obviously he shouldn't have said what he said under the circumstance, but it is what it is and, yeah, [we've] got to move past it now. I want to say some stuff, but I've got to keep it pretty low. Most of the guys have been pretty good, pretty much everyone. They've been good to me and I don't think I'm in the wrong with anything."
Known for his calm demeanor, surprisingly in a recent match, he too got into a sledging match with opponent Ryan Harrison. Could it be the Kyrgios effect rubbing off? After maintaining a constant silence for the past week, here's what Donna Vekic had to say about the incident: "It’s not easy but I’m trying to focus on tennis and my next match.” On being asked if she'd spoken to any of the concerned parties afterwards, she took time before answering, "I haven’t spoken to Kyrgios. But it’s a very disappointing thing to be happening in our sport and I hope it won’t happen again because it’s not a very good image for our sport.”
His family aren't doing him any favours either. His mother tweeted last Thursday, "A sledge for a sledge." That is likely in reference to Wawrinka's comments on the Aussie after their matchup at Queen's. Since then, not only the tweet, but her account has been deleted too.
His brother, Christos Kyrgios, who's already notorious on social media for his biased defending of Nick, was kicked out of a radio interview for saying something absolutely unacceptable about Vekic. Christos also later posted this on Facebook," The pr*ck (Stan) is lucky I wasn’t there or he would have been withdrawing from the next few tournaments,” Christos wrote. “He put his hands on Nick — grabbed him and said a whole bunch of abusive s***. I’ve studied law and that s*** is abuse bro. Lucky we aren’t pressing charges.”
Christos has had his ATP accreditation for the currently running Western & Southern Open revoked after this but is expected to get it back before the US Open. Kyrgios' father too was embroiled in a controversy at Wimbledon this year: he supposedly became violent after he was denied access to the locker room. Looking at the Kyrgios clan, it isn't exactly a surprise why Nick has turned out the way he has.
Why is such a big deal being made out of it, since incidents like these are the norm in other sports? Firstly, tennis is considered to be a "gentleman's sport" and this is definitely not the image that tennis has worked so hard to build over the years. To Kyrgios it may just be a hot headed outburst, but what about that 10-year-old fan, watching his match, imbibing the language? Tennis players are idolised all over the world, so they need to be careful about the side of themselves they show on court and to the media. Secondly, it's simply not morally right to bring someone's personal life into it, and definitely not 'entertainment' of any kind.
Since then Kyrgios has apologized profusely, both on social media and allegedly to Wawrinka too (in private, but the Swiss denies it) but the hype behind this shows no sign of receding.
Players and big shots on the tour have weighed in with their opinions too, (including the likes of Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Heather Watson, Stefan Kozlov, Laura Robson, Belinda Bencic, Andrea Petkovic, Ana Ivanovic, Brad Gilbert, Stan's coach Magnus Norman and cricketer Glenn Maxwell just to name a few) with many of them calling for Kyrgios to be suspended, or at least be given a heavy fine. This writer just hopes that Nick Kyrgios manages to get his life back on track, because it really hurts to see such a talented person throw away his career.