Tsitsipas calls Kyrgios bully after Wimbledon hubbub, loss

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WIMBLEDON, England — Nick Kyrgios cursed at the Wimbledon chair umpire and asked, “Are you dumb?” He demanded to see a Grand Slam supervisor after questioning why his opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, didn’t forfeit their ever-contentious, never-boring match for angrily hitting a ball into the stands after dropping the second set.

Unsatisfied with the response, Kyrgios asked, “What are you talking about, bro?” Then came this: “Bro, bring out more supervisors. I’m not done. Bring ’em all out. I don’t care. I’m not playing until we get to the bottom of this.”

Narrator: He did continue to play Saturday. And the unpredictable, unseeded Kyrgios won 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7) to reach the fourth round at the All England Club for the first time since 2016 – then was criticized by the No. 4-seeded Tsitsipas for having “a very evil side.”

“It’s constant bullying. That’s what he does. He bullies the opponents,” said Tsitsipas, the 2021 French Open runner-up, who also lost to Kyrgios on grass at a tournament in Halle, Germany, last month. “He was probably a bully at school himself. I don’t like bullies.”

There was more, so much more, from underarm serves hit by the Kyrgios – including one between his legs – to the three shots purposely smacked right at him by Tsitsipas. A total of three code violations were called by chair umpire Damien Dumusois, one on Kyrgios for an audible obscenity, and two on Tsitsipas for ball abuse, earning a point penalty.

Told of Tsitsipas’ “bully” comment, Kyrgios laughed and shook his head.

“He was the one hitting balls at me. He was the one who hit a spectator. … I didn’t do anything. Apart from me going back and forth with the umpire, I did nothing toward Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don’t think,” Kyrgios said at his news conference, wearing a T-shirt with former NBA player Dennis Rodman’s name on it.

“If he’s affected by that today, then that’s what’s holding him back,” Kyrgios said about Tsitsipas. “Because someone can just do that, and that’s going to throw him off his game like that? I just think it’s soft.”

There even was some terrific tennis along the way, with the players combining for 118 winners. It all took 3 hours, 17 minutes, with nary a dull moment, and finished so late that the retractable roof at No. 1 Court was shut and the artificial lights turned on midway through the fourth set.

Tsitsipas held a pair of set points to force a fifth, but Kyrgios saved both, the latter with a half-volley winner after serving-and-volleying on a second serve.

Kyrgios, a 27-year-old from Australia, converted his second match point with a drop shot, then roared. That sort of skill has always been evident from Kyrgios, who twice has been a Grand Slam quarterfinalist. Also long obvious: Kyrgios often appears more interested in entertaining or arguing than in doing whatever it takes to finish on the right side of the score.

On Saturday, during one changeover midway through the fourth set, Kyrgios sat in his chair, barking between bites on a banana. Was he shouting at an official? At the folks seated in his guest box? At himself? Hard to know with him, sometimes.

He was fined $10,000 by the tournament for unsportsmanlike conduct at his first-round match, which he ended by spitting the direction of a spectator he said was heckling him. It is the largest of the 22 prize money penalties issued in Week 1.

Kyrgios has a history of crossing the line during matches. In 2019, he was placed on a six-month probation by the ATP Tour after being fined $113,000 for eight infractions at a tournament. Earlier that season, he was defaulted from a match at the Italian Open after throwing a chair. In 2016, he was suspended by the ATP for not trying to win and for insulting fans during the Shanghai Masters.

His issues with Dumusois began in the first set, when he was disturbed by a reversed call by a line judge and wanted that official removed. Didn’t happen.

“There comes a point where you really get tired of it, let’s say,” said Tsitsipas, a 23-year-old from Greece. “The constant talking, the constant complaining.”

After Kyrgios broke to grab the second set, Tsitsipas swatted a ball with a backhand into the crowd. The ball appeared to ricochet off a wall, but what wasn’t entirely clear was whether it landed on anyone.

Tsitsipas apologized for that afterward, saying it stemmed from frustration created by “all the circus show going on, on the other side of the net.”

“I didn’t hit any people. It did hit the wall, thank God,” he said, and acknowledged he was trying to hit his foe with some other balls aimed right at his body. “For sure I’m never doing that again. It’s my responsibility, for sure.”

That drew just a warning from Dumusois, which didn’t sit well with Kyrgios.

“You can’t hit a ball into the crowd and hit someone and not get defaulted,” Kyrgios said, bringing up the episode at the 2020 U.S. Open involving Novak Djokovic, who was ejected from a match after inadvertently hitting a ball that struck a line judge in the throat.

At one point, Kyrgios told Dumusois: “You don’t know how to play, so how about you don’t tell me how to play? … Bro, the people want to see me, not you.”

They will get another chance to see Kyrgios on Monday, when he faces Brandon Nakashima for a spot in the quarterfinals. Nakashima is one of four American men in the fourth round, the most at Wimbledon since 1999.

The other men’s matches Monday will be 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal against No. 21 Botic van de Zandschulp, No. 11 Taylor Fritz against qualifier Jason Kubler, and No. 19 Alex de Minaur against Cristian Garin.

Nadal’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 27 Lorenzo Sonego was nowhere near as off-the-rails as Kyrgios vs. Tsitsipas, but it had its own bit of back-and-forth between the players over etiquette.

Nadal didn’t like that Sonego’s grunts were too loud and stretched out too long. Sonego didn’t like that Nadal beckoned him to talk at the net about it.

Unlike Kyrgios and Tsitsipas, though, they settled their differences in the locker room afterward.

“I have to say,” Nadal said at his news conference, “that I was wrong.”

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”