"A circus" - Nick Kyrgios defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas in explosive encounter at Wimbledon

Antics from both players had tennis fans spellbound during the third-round match, which saw the Australian maverick beat the classic Greek in a fractious encounter.

By Jo Gunston
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

A cursory handshake at the net wrapped up a tempestuous match that saw Nick Kyrgios advance to Wimbledon’s fourth round after beating fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6.

The Australian world number 40 beat the Greek in four sets on Saturday (2 July) in a feisty men's singles encounter on No 1 court in London.

Glorious tennis from both was interspersed with trademark under-arm serves from maverick Kyrgios but an overruled line call at 5-5 in the first set, as he threatened a service break, lit the fuse. An ongoing dialogue with umpire Damien Dumusois began.

“Bro, you’re supposed to make the right call. You don’t get credit for making the right call.

“So you just say sorry and it’s all good, right?”

Tsitsipas held his nerve, winning the first set tie-break 7-2 with sublime shots including a sweeping backhand return to land plumb on the line.

Spellbinding performances

More oohs from the crowd for both players as sensational shots peppered the second set but it was Kyrgios who broke the Greek’s serve to level the match at one set all to roars of approval from the fans who wanted more.

Frustrated with losing the set, Tsitsipas swatted the ball toward the crowd, for which he got a warning but Kyrgios demanded a default from Dumusois.

“It’s a default bro. What classifies as that then? What classifies as it? So you can hit a ball into the crowd and hit someone and not get defaulted? Are you dumb?”

After calling for the supervisor but getting no joy from Andreas Egli the match continued.

An underarm serve from Kyrgios saw the Greek lose his head and swipe at the ball, which hit the scoreboard to give the Australian a 4-1 lead in the third set.

A further loss of composure saw Tsitsipas take the opportunity of smashing the ball toward Kyrgios, a charge he admitted. “I was aiming for the body of my opponent but I missed by a lot, by a lot,” said Tsitsipas afterwards, the anger behind it taking the ball long, to boos from the crowd. Kyrgios went on to take the set.

The fourth set headed into a tie break with Kyrgios winning match point with a delicate drop shot, thwarting a fast-incoming Tsitsipas. Kyrgios roared with delight. Tsitsipas’ head dropped. The match was done.

Off-court fifth set

The match continued into a fifth set off the court during the press conference. Tsitsipas acknowledged his opponent’s appeal, saying “I like what his tennis has to bring to our sport. Like he's very different. That's not a bad thing”. But then the 23-year-old Roland Garros finalist went on to call the match a “circus” and revealed his frustration at his former doubles’ partner’s antics.

“The constant talking, the constant complaining. I mean, I'm about to serve, and there is a big gap there that there is no tennis being played, which is the most important thing in the court. We are there to play tennis. We are not there to have conversations and dialogues with other people, except – especially actually, not "except" – especially when you really know that the referee is not going to overrule what he decided, you know.”

Describing the match as a “rollercoaster” Kyrgios was nevertheless pleased with his performance. “I'm really happy to just be second week of a slam again here for the fourth time, I think. Just super happy to – I think the hard work and just the way I have been playing on the grass is paying off.”

On being told that his opposite number had described him as a “bully” who could be “evil”, Kyrgios laughed.

“I'm not sure how I bullied him. He was the one hitting balls at me, he was the one that hit a spectator, he was the one that smacked it out of the stadium.

“I didn't do anything. I was actually like – apart from me just going back and forth to the umpire for a bit, I did nothing towards Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don't think. I was not drilling him with balls.”

And the handshake at the net? Tsitsipas revealed his true feelings: “I need to congratulate my opponent. It's a thing I have been doing my entire life. I have never finished the match and not given my hand to the opponent simply because of his performance.

“But attitude-wise, if there was a handshake for that, I would definitely be walking away from it, and that's how it is. It's not acceptable in any way.”

Next in Kyrgios sights is unseeded American Brandon Nakashima, whom he plays on Monday (4 July).

Wimbledon: How to watch the All England tennis Championships

Wimbledon takes place from Monday 27 June – Sunday 10 July 2022 at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in south west London.

You can find all the latest information, including a list of broadcasters by territory, on the Wimbledon website as well as the most up-to-date draw and each day’s order of play.

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