Nick Kyrgios has hit back at critics who have accused him of disrespecting women’s singles champion Ash Barty in an Instagram post.
The 26-year-old faced a backlash on Sunday after comments made following his win on Saturday night. After the men’s doubles final that saw Kyrgios take out the title with fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyrgios told reporters, “I would say that we’ve created probably the best atmosphere this tournament has ever seen. Ash (Barty’s) father came to us and said the crowd was the best he’s ever seen. Obviously Ash is a hell of a player, but I think the ratings speak for themselves.
“People watch my matches, everywhere I play around the world the stadiums are full for that reason. So I don’t think those people that are screaming out before points, that’s got nothing to do with us. But there’s a reason why the ratings are the way they are and people are glued to the TV when we play. It speaks for itself really.”
The backlash from tennis commentators was swift and scathing, with English commentator Catherine Whitaker saying during an appearance on ABC’s Offsiders, “My jaw dropped when I read those quotes and I thought it might have been one of those where the quote is written down and it looks a bit worse than when you see the clip, sometimes that can be the case with press conferences.
“But it’s not the case in this instance. I mean, on a night that was about Ash Barty, without question, to say that, it is pretty extraordinary.” Offsiders host Kelly Underwood said it was “extremely disrespectful” and told Kyrgios to read the room.
Both Barty and Kyrgios’ matches on Saturday night smashed records, with Barty’s attracting 4.2 million viewers, the most watched women’s final since the current records system was introduced in 1999. Meanwhile, the men’s doubles final attracted 3.1 million viewers, despite its later time slot.
In response to the criticism, Kyrgios wrote on Instagram, “F** you media. Honestly, I said nothing disrespectful to @ashbarty. I said that the crowd this year was amazing and I feel as if @the-kokk1 & I were a big part of that.
“Ash’s father came to me and even said that. All I said was that when people watch me around the world the stadiums are full. I grew up with Ash & always knew her potential.”
He went on to criticise Max Purcell, after the pair had seemingly been at odds for much of the tournament. Purcell had earlier accused Kyrgios and Kokkinakis of being “disrespectful” to their opponents and agreed with calls for Kyrgios to be disqualified for hitting a ball into the crowd. Kyrgios wrote, “As for @maxpurcell you donut, regarding your comments after the match, you clearly have no idea about entertainment and sport.”
“Next time you lose another slam final, you should just put your head down and try to figure out how to play the big points better. No need to slate other Aussies in the media cuz people would rather watch paint dry than your S&V game style.”
Image: TPN/Getty Images
This article first appeared on Over60.