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Wimbledon officials are deliberating over whether to fine Nick Kyrgios after he admitted he spat towards a spectator and called a line judge a “snitch” during a stormy first-round victory against Britain’s Paul Jubb.
The Australian claimed there were mitigating circumstances for his behaviour by accusing the umpire of ignoring his pleas for an abusive spectator to be ejected, and also blamed social media for creating a new breed of supporter who enjoy filming themselves abusing sports stars.
Speaking after his 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7, 7-5 victory against Jubb, Kyrgios said he had spat at the spectator because they had constantly “disrespected” him.
“It’s happening more and more in sport,” Kyrgios said.
“I don’t go into Argos and just start smashing someone at the counter when they’re doing their job. I’ve never done that in my life. I just think spectators think there’s just no line there any more. They can just say something and they film it and then they laugh about it.
“Someone just yelled out I was shit in the crowd today. Is that normal? No. But it’s happening over and over again. I think it’s a level of respect. Why do they feel that’s acceptable?”
Kygrios faced accusations of hypocrisy after appearing to abuse several officials during his three-hour match. They included loudly calling one line judge a “snitch” when she went to the umpire at 3-2 in the first set, and repeatedly telling another to get off court when she made a mistake.
He was irritated again when two line judges with silver hair made rogue calls. “These people are in their 90s, they can’t see the ball,” he fumed after a successful challenge. Wimbledon confirmed they would be speaking to the umpire and reviewing the transcript of Kyrgios’s press conference before deciding what punishment to take.
Under grand slam tournament rules, players are warned that they shall not “at any time directly or indirectly verbally abuse any official, opponent, sponsor, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site”.
In 2010 the Romanian Victor Hanescu was fined $15,000 after spitting at spectators. Under grand slam rules, players can now be fined up to $20,000 (£16,400) for each offence. Kyrgios, however, insisted he had done nothing wrong.
“All these spectators came to see a full stadium with Nick Kyrgios and my opponent,” he said when asked about the “snitch” comment. “She found it relevant to go to run to the umpire at 30-love and make it about her. No one was there to see her today, factually.”
During the match Kygrios also urged the umpire, Marija Cicak, to kick out a couple of spectators who were abusing him, although he did not specify the nature of the abuse. “They don’t have any right to do that,” he told her. “They should be removed. I don’t go up to their face in their 9-5 and start clapping when they’re scanning shit at a supermarket. They have no right to do that so why does it keep happening?”
Kygrios later also made a bizarre claim that he was justified in attacking officials because he gets more abuse on social media than they do.
“I just know factually, like if we go through my Instagram compared to an umpire’s, it’s disgusting some of the things I deal with. Like my brother has alopecia and they joke about him being a cancer patient. I doubt the umpires are dealing with that.
“It goes deeper than that because if I lose a tennis match and it comes down to a call, they’re not getting abused on social media. I have to deal with it.
“My girlfriend deals with hate messages. My family deals with hate messages. I deal with hate messages.”
Almost lost in the weeds of an extraordinary press conference was that Jubb, the world No 219 who is yet to win a match on the main tour, gave Kygrios an almighty fright.
“It was incredibly tough,” Kygrios said. “He was a local wildcard, he had nothing to lose and he played exceptional tennis. I thought I was going to go down there.
“From a level standpoint, that’s probably one of the worst matches I’ve ever played at Wimbledon. I wasn’t feeling the ball well, I wasn’t hitting the ball well, I wasn’t serving well, I couldn’t make a return for ages. I played awful for an hour and a half. Then somehow I just scrapped. I just take that as a positive.”
Jubb has vowed to climb up the rankings but insisted what had happened on court had not affected him. “I didn’t pay attention to any of that,” he said. “So I can’t really remember what he was ranting about.”