LOADING ...

Nick Kyrgios Says He's "Fucking Done" During Tantrum, And It's Hard Not To Believe Him

Laura Wagner May 17, 2019. 19 comments

Of all Nick Kyrgios’s many  many many many tantrums , the one he unleashed today at the Italian Open was his most over-the-top display yet. On the heels of a brutally honest interview with tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, in which Kyrgios admitted winning tennis matches doesn’t make him happy, that he does the least amount of work on tour, and that all he wants to do is be at home playing basketball and video games, it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore the fact that, despite his obvious talent, maybe Kyrgios simply doesn’t want to be a pro tennis player.

Today’s meltdown started early in the third set of his second-round match against 76th-ranked Norwegian Casper Ruud when Kyrgios’s serve was broken. Kyrgios began yelling at people in the stands for allegedly moving and being distracting during his serve. For that he was given a code violation, which, given an earlier code violation, converted into a game penalty, and from there it escalated. He chucked his racket to the clay, kicked a water bottle, threw a chair to center court, screamed to the crowd, “I am fucking done,” packed up and stalked off the court.

On the broadcast, you can see the crowd’s reaction.

Yesterday, Rothenberg published an episode of his podcast No Challenges Remaining featuring an 50-minute interview with Kyrgios that was conducted on Tuesday, after Kyrgios’s Italian Open win over Daniil Medvedev. In it, the 24-year-old admitted that the fear of failure does contribute to why he doesn’t always give his full effort.

Rothenberg: Do you feel, more philosophically, that like you’re intentionally afraid to give a full effort in tennis? One thing I’ve heard people guess about you and other athletes is that you’re maybe afraid that if you gave a full effort and didn’t win a Grand Slam then it would show more clearly that you were never good enough to do that. And you’re intentionally sort of holding yourself back in some way so you always have an excuse?

Kyrgios: For sure I think there’s an element of that, but at the same time when I was 19 at Wimbledon and I was at the quarter finals, I was giving my full effort. And literally since that day that was probably my best chance at winning a Grand Slam. I had a good draw, I played [Milos] Raonic when he wasn’t maybe as good as he has been, I was up a set and a break. And then to play Roger when his back was a little bit like [injured]—so that was my best chance but ever since then I haven’t really... I’ve gone to the fourth round or quarters and run into maybe Murray or someone who’s just been too good. I literally can’t win even if I was ticking all the boxes, I wouldn’t be able to win. But now, I know deep down, like I’ve had conversations with myself like, is it a front? But winning Grand Slams or winning tennis matches, to me, they don’t make me happy. For instance today, as soon as I won the match I was so happy to get off the court, like literally just get some food. [...] I thought when I was younger it would be cool to have all this, the fame and the money, but it doesn’t make me happy at all. I just want to be home and doing low-key things.

This isn’t the first time Kyrgios has made comments like this, but this is by far the most complete he’s been on the subject. Kyrgios had previously feuded with Rothenberg , but the two buried the hatchet at the beginning of the interview and went on to have a frank, wide-ranging conversation about Kyrgios’s mindset, life on the tour, and other players. The entire interview is well worth a listen, but some highlights include Kyrgios talking about getting “hammered” and partying most nights until 4:30 a.m. while he was playing Acapulco earlier this year, a tournament he went on to win ; his desire to play doubles with passionate content creator Stefanos Tsitsipas , even though he thinks Tsitsipas’s “half-naked” photo was “too much”; and calling Rafael Nadal “super salty” and Novak Djokovic “cringeworthy.”

On Instagram, Kyrgios apologized for flipping out.

That “maybe” is the most important word of the whole post. Maybe today’s tantrum is just one more for the file. Maybe he’ll get a new coach or find inner peace or seize on a source of motivation or go see a sports psychologist and discover meaning or joy in tennis. That would be lovely. But for years, Kyrgios has been showing and telling the world that he does not want to be a professional tennis player. And for years the world—fans, coaches, reporters, other players—loath to see talent go unrealized and addicted to the thrill of the Kyrgios show, have willed him to stick around, to try, to want it. Maybe it’s time to stop.

19 Comments

Other Laura Wagner's posts

Alexi Lalas Should Think Less Alexi Lalas Should Think Less

Wouldn’t you know it! Alexi Lalas, the guy who said “damn right, I’m gonna stand,” and implied that players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality would be the same as a player wearing a MAGA hat during the national anthem, has more half-baked political takes.It started earlier today when Lalas took issue with a tweet posted...

Sports Media's Bias Against Men Doesn't Prevent Ed Werder From Getting His Old Job Back Sports Media's Bias Against Men Doesn't Prevent Ed Werder From Getting His Old Job Back

Remember last year when Ed Werder, who was laid off from ESPN in 2017, went on a Twitter rant about how people who encouraged women to apply for jobs in sports were “disqualifying” men from getting those jobs? Remember when he pretended that there wasn’t a massive gender imbalance in sports media in favor of white men like himself,...

Let's Do The Math On The Athletic Let's Do The Math On The Athletic

The Athletic, the subscription-based sports news startup aiming to make local newspaper sports sections obsolete , has all the momentum in the world. It’s raised more than $90 million in venture-capital funding, has expanded to nearly 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada, and is now launching English Premier League coverage across the pond. From one angle, it’s a...

Miami Marlins Sorry For Blaming Tampa Bay Rays For Killing Steve Irwin Miami Marlins Sorry For Blaming Tampa Bay Rays For Killing Steve Irwin

A spokesman for the Miami Marlins apologized today for a bit of spicy Twitter banter in which the Marlins’ account blamed the Tampa Bay Rays for Steve Irwin’s death, Miami radio host Andy Slater reported.The tweet in question, which was sent yesterday at 12:46 p.m. EDT and was, for once not deleted, says, “yOU’RE LITERALLY THE ANIMAL THAT KILLED...

Suggested posts

Nick Kyrgios Uses Bathroom Break To Demolish Two Rackets, Then Spits At Umpire In Latest Meltdown Nick Kyrgios Uses Bathroom Break To Demolish Two Rackets, Then Spits At Umpire In Latest Meltdown

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag.Click here to view original GIFNick Kyrgios melted down spectacularly Wednesday night at the Cincinnati Masters, in a second-round loss to eighth seed Karen Khachanov, 6–7, 7–6, 6–2. Kyrgios completed a stirring comeback in the first set but started coming unglued in the second set, after chair umpire Fergus Murphy hit him with...

Nick Kyrgios Won Another Title By Keeping Himself Entertained Nick Kyrgios Won Another Title By Keeping Himself Entertained

Surely you have your own coping strategies for getting through a long week of work: caffeine in elephantine doses, clear communication with colleagues, well-timed breaks, or steady stress-eating.For Nick Kyrgios, getting through six tennis matches in a row requires a regimen all his own, seen over the span of the Washington Open last week: responsible use of tweeners, consulting...

True Weirdo Nick Kyrgios Serves Match-Winning Ace After Consulting A Fan True Weirdo Nick Kyrgios Serves Match-Winning Ace After Consulting A Fan

Here’s another one for the Nick Kyrgios Files. During Friday night’s Washington Open quarterfinal against Norbert Gombos, Kyrgios took advantage of a replay break to ask a fan in the front row where he should place his potentially match-winning serve. Ever the showman, the 24-year-old Australian followed her advice, and zoomed an un-returnable serve past Gombos to clinch a...

Nick Kyrgios Executes Perfect Underarm Serve Against Rafael Nadal Nick Kyrgios Executes Perfect Underarm Serve Against Rafael Nadal

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag.Click here to view original GIFThe second round of Wimbledon offered Nick Kyrgios the opportunity to do what he loves best, which is to try to beat Rafael Nadal. Though he failed in that quest, falling in four sets in yesterday’s match, Kyrgios was able to realize his other great love, which is...

The Stefanos Tsitsipas Channel Is Always On The Stefanos Tsitsipas Channel Is Always On

Minutes removed from making the 2019 Australian Open semifinals, Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-foot-4 and handsome as a lion, was talking about YouTube. With a microphone in his face and all the attention that comes with taking out Roger Federer two days earlier, Tsitsipas spoke his truth.“I was watching a lot of creators, people that were creating nice content on YouTube,” the...

The Underarm Serve Trick Shouldn't Only Be Used By Nick Kyrgios The Underarm Serve Trick Shouldn't Only Be Used By Nick Kyrgios

The serve remains the biggest offensive weapon in the game of tennis. If a player can’t find a way to solve a dangerous server, they’ll struggle to find any traction in a match. So that returner has to find a counter of some kind.When a player is blasting high-bouncing serves well into the 140-mph range, as Nick Kyrgios was...

Nick Kyrgios Was More Than Happy To Be The Villain And Crush Some Forehands Nick Kyrgios Was More Than Happy To Be The Villain And Crush Some Forehands

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag.Click here to view original GIFThe crowd in Acapulco booed Nick Kyrgios all through his upset of Rafael Nadal , and kept that energy for his quarterfinal against three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka. When Kyrgios tripped in the first set and required treatment for a nickel-sized, oozing wound on his hand, they booed....

Nick Kyrgios Got Under Rafael Nadal's Skin In Front Of A Jeering Crowd Nick Kyrgios Got Under Rafael Nadal's Skin In Front Of A Jeering Crowd

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag.Click here to view original GIFFirst it was the upset stomach, then it was the wrapped knee, then it was the taped-up back. Ordinarily just one of these is a sufficient reason for Nick Kyrgios to pack it in and retire from a match, especially if it’s some rando across the net who...

Practically All The Australian Tennis Men Have Been Dragged Into Bernard Tomic's Beef Practically All The Australian Tennis Men Have Been Dragged Into Bernard Tomic's Beef

The tennis world down under has been roiled by beef. Former Australian great Lleyton Hewitt now captains his country’s Davis Cup team, but he isn’t very popular among his young charges, if you take the word of Bernard Tomic, the prickly 26-year-old who was long ago one of Australia’s brightest prospects and more recently its most artful tanker (a...

Nick Kyrgios Is Just Another Grump Railing At The Umpire Now Nick Kyrgios Is Just Another Grump Railing At The Umpire Now

Nick Kyrgios is no longer playing well or amusingly enough to justify the usual apologist disclaimer, so let’s just get to the point. On Monday at the Shanghai Masters, where he has tanked for two years running , he once again flirted with nihilism as he lost to world No. 104 Bradley Klahn, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Highlights include sparring...

Language