Nick Kyrgios has been involved in a hilarious exchange with American actor Ben Stiller during an explosive moment in his quarter-final defeat to Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells on Thursday.
In the third set of the pair’s tense two hour and 45 minute marathon, Kyrgios was pushing to hold serve when a tennis fan shouted out a comment from behind him.
In the video above: Watch Kyrgios’ hilarious exchange with Ben Stiller
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Kyrgios looked back and yelled at the ticketholder, who was seated just metres away from Stiller and his partner Christine Taylor at the rear of the court.
After hours of complaining about crowd noise to the chair umpire Kyrgios was absolutely fuming but still had his wits about him to pull off a classic comment.
“Why are you speaking,” he yelled at the unruly fan, before pointing to Stiller.
“Do I tell him how to act? No,” Kyrgios said, prompting laughter from the crowd.
Nadal went on to win the point, with commentators suggesting his focus wasn’t wavering like his Aussie opponent, who’s also been involved in a Netflix tennis documentary in the past week.
“As Kyrgios was engaging with Ben Stiller, Nadal was planning his next assault,” one commentator said.
Kyrgios had his serve broken by Nadal soon after his Stiller moment, prompting a furious tirade at chair umpire Carlos Bernardes for not controlling the crowd.
“How long are you going to let that s**t go on for? How long? How long? How long, bro? How long?” Kyrgios screamed.
“If you did something about it before, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
“It happens again and again — and look at the f***ing score! Look at the score!
“It’s your job to control that, no one else’s. It’ll keep happening over and over and over again. Say something!”
The 21-time major winner would continue his momentum to defeat Kyrgios in three sets, 7-6 (7-0) 5-7 6-4, and continue his 19-0 unbeaten run so far this season.
“Nick is one of the most talented players on tour,” Nadal said after the match.
“When he’s playing with motivation and passion, he’s someone who can win against anyone.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Australian Open champion Nadal, with Kyrgios focused and energised during a thrilling first set.
He broke Nadal early to take a break lead before Nadal’s comeback left him frustrated and fuming.
From there the 26-year-old was accused of ‘losing the plot’ as he smashed a racquet and loudly said to his team that Nadal was “so lucky”.
Kyrgios eventually lost the first-set tiebreaker after copping a point penalty on set point for an audible obscenity.
The world No.132 was on the edge of a meltdown as he argued with the chair umpire in the set break, confused that Nadal hadn’t received any of the same treatment.
“Nothing for him? Why do you do that? Is that acceptable though,” Kyrgios said.
Kyrgios then ordered Bernardes to control the unruly members of the crowd at the tournament in California, calling the situation “bull***t”.
“The crowd can’t scream things out. You see how it affects players bro,” he said.
“You guys do a terrible job with that. You don’t protect the players from any of that stuff.”
Kyrgios managed to regain his composure in the second set, taking it 7-5.
But the crowd once again got in the Aussie’s head in the third set, as a focused Nadal took advantage to advance to the semi-finals and improve his career record against Kyrgios to 6-3.
Kyrgios’ close call with ball kid
The drama was far from over at the conclusion of the match, with Kyrgios coming terrifying close to injuring a ball boy after he smashed his racquet while walking to his bag at the side of the court.
Kyrgios’ racquet rebounded off the court and flew dangerously close to a ball boy at the corner of the court, as you can see below.
“Really disturbing to see Kyrgios smash a racquet in defeat (after the handshake) that rebounds and comes very close to hitting a ballboy. This stuff needs to stop, and he’s not alone,” tennis journalist Christopher Clarey wrote.
Title-winning tennis coach turned commentator Brad Gilbert said: “Ridiculous to do that after such a good match. The penalty should be severe… not a good look for kids and our sport.”
Kyrgios was asked about the incident in his post-match presser, with the Aussie appearing frustrated that he had to explain himself.
“What would you like me to say about it? Obviously, was that my intention? No. Because I threw the racquet. Did I throw it anywhere near him originally? It landed a metre from my foot and skidded and nearly hit him,” Kyrgios said.
“I’m human. Things happen like that. Obviously it was a very misfortunate bounce. I think if I did that a million times over it wouldn’t have gone that way.”
Kyrgios later took to Instagram to apologise for the incident, while asking for further details about the ball kid so he could send him a racquet.
“It was a complete accident and (I) was frustrated at the end of the match,” Kyrgios wrote.
“My racket took a crazy bounce and (it) was never my intention. If anyone knows who that ball kid is, send me a message and I will send a racket to him. I’m glad he’s ok.”
Nadal now marches on at Indian Wells. He’ll play either Carlos Alcaraz or reigning champion Cameron Norrie in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile Kyrgios will leap in the rankings after a productive tournament and is expected to be world No.101 by the end of the week.
Kyrgios, who was a wildcard entry in the tournament, beat Sebastian Baez, Federico Delbonis and world No.8 Casper Ruud on his way to the quarter-finals.