Nick Kyrgios has been labelled a “knob” with the maturity of a 10-year-old by one of his opponents at the Australian Open.
Kyrgios and compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis have provided one of the stories of the tournament by reaching the semi-finals of the men’s doubles, spurred on by the type of rowdy crowds rarely seen in tennis and certainly not for doubles.
In the quarter-finals on Tuesday, the Australian pair defeated German Tim Puetz and New Zealander Michael Venus 7-5 3-6 6-3 on the Kia Arena.
Tensions were high throughout the contest, particularly between Kyrgios and Venus, who earned the ire of the crowd for catching his ball toss on a number of occasions, and Venus did not hold back in his assessment of Kyrgios.
Speaking to 1News, Venus said: “On the maturity side, you see why he’s never fulfilled his potential and probably never will.
“His maturity level, it’s probably being generous to about a 10-year-old. They’ll always be his supporters and he’ll spin it in a way that helps him but at the end of the day he’s an absolute knob.”
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis will move to Rod Laver Arena on Thursday for their semi-final against Spaniard Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina.
Should they win that, they could well find themselves in a final against Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram.
The second seeds are bidding to reach the final for a third successive year having won it in 2020 and been runners-up 12 months ago, and they eased past Italian duo Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-2 in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Salisbury said of Kyrgios and Kokkinakis: “I think it is good for the doubles draw that those guys are in it and it gets a bit more attention. A lot of people have been enjoying it.
“I think we are quite happy going along not worrying about that too much. If we hopefully get through and get to play them in the final, it will be a great situation to be in.
“Some of it is borderline. I think it is great to have a lot of support and the crowd really getting into it and getting a bit rowdy but you do want them to be respectful of the players as well. Sometimes it’s a bit over the line.”
Salisbury and Ram will get a taste of it on Thursday when they meet another Australian duo, Matt Ebden and Max Purcell, who defeated Britain’s Neal Skupski and Dutchman Wesley Koolhof 3-6 6-4 7-6 (6).
Skupski had been unbeaten in 2022 having won two titles with new partner Koolhof, and he said: “You don’t really get to play in front of crowds like that for doubles that often.
“I spoke to Max Purcell and he said it’s a lot worse playing against Nick and Thanasi. I think it’s good for doubles. It puts a lot more eyes watching doubles. As long as they behave themselves, it should be OK.
“So far I think the energy that Nick’s bringing and Kokkinakis is great for doubles. There’s some stuff that you don’t want to be happening on the court and from the crowd but, as long as they keep it PG, it’s only good really.”