Nick Kyrgios has responded to criticism after he seemingly claimed to have had more support from the Australian Open crowd than Ash Barty – the same night she won her grand slam title.
The comment – which was labelled “tone deaf” – came hours after the two Australians had left the tournament as champions with Barty winning the nation’s first Open title in 44 years, and Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis clinching the men’s doubles title.
While world No.1 Barty sent the crowd into raptures before receiving worldwide praise for her conduct, Kyrgios suggested the biggest applause was left for him and Kokkinakis.
“I would say that we’ve created probably the best atmosphere this tournament’s ever seen, to be brutally honest with you,” Kyrgios said at the post-match press conference, which drew a chuckle from Kokkinakis.
“Ash’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 … people watch my matches.
“Everywhere I play around the world the stadiums are full for that reason.”
Sports personality Kelli Underwood was among those to criticise the comments, telling the ABC’s Offsiders program it was “extremely disrespectful” and “tone deaf”.
‘I said nothing disrespectful’ -Kyrgios
In a series of late-night Instagram stories on Sunday, Kyrgios responded with a clear message – “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 and I were a big part of that,” he wrote.
“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 and always knew her potential.”
Kyrgios’ relationship with the crowd was an ongoing topic of conversation throughout the tournament at Melbourne Park.
More than one opponent was put off by the raucous antics of the crowd during his singles and doubles campaigns.
The Special Ks defeated fellow Australians Matt Ebden and Max Purcell 7-5 6-4 in the men’s doubles final on Saturday night.
The victory was the first by a home pairing at Melbourne Park since the Woodies – Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge – in 1997 and comes nine years after Kyrgios and Kokkinakis claimed the junior Wimbledon doubles title together.
– with AAP