He may be famous for walking on court rocking some colorful Beats headphones but it was music that sent Nick Kyrgios into a fit during his 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 defeat to No6 seed Tomas Berdych in the third round in Melbourne on Friday.
After dropping the first set, in which he berated himself by yelling “stay present, that’s all you had to say… Say something… Stay aggressive”, Kyrgios got frustrated because he could hear background music in the stadium while he was playing, although it must have been really faint because neither the umpire, nor Berdych seemed to hear it.
Berdych had broken in game seven of the second set and held for a 5-3 lead before Kyrgios started arguing with umpire James Keothavong about why he wasn’t doing anything to stop the music. The referee asked him if he wanted to halt play until they could sort out the issue but Kyrgios didn’t hear him.
After he lost the second set, Kyrgios furiously told Keothavong: “Are you okay? Mate, there is music, playing in the crowd, while we are playing. I’ve told you seven times. Did you? I didn’t hear you ask me. Did you ask me ‘Nick, do you want to stop playing?’ No you didn’t.”
He then asked the crowd: “Am I hearing things? Am I hearing things? Mate, it's a circus.”
Back to the umpire, Kyrgios added: “You really know how to control a match, buddy. There's guys throwing balls back into the crowd. And you have music playing while we're playing. Good control. It's a f****** joke.”What I've learned in last six months: when Nick Kyrgios calls you "mate" during a match...it probably doesn't mean you're friends. #AusOpen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 22, 2016
Letting out his frustration, Kyrgios raised his level to grab the third set but Berdych remained ice cold and focused, getting three match points with a down the line backhand winner and wrapping up the match on a Kyrgios double fault.
After the players' handshake at the net, Kyrgios told Keothavong “you’re a terrible referee” as he walked off.
Asked to explain the problem, Kyrgios said in his press conference: “I don't know where it came from. The ref was telling me he couldn't hear it. I could blatantly hear it. So unless tennis, you can start playing tennis when there's music in the background, that's a new rule. They need to add it to the rule book.”
Kyrgios paid tribute to Berdych – a semi-finalist in Melbourne last year – but said he was disappointed not to get the win.
“I'm so disappointed, like I put so much work in, and I just feel like I let a lot of people down,” confessed Kyrgios.
When reminded that everybody loses at one point or another, Kyrgios said: “Djokovic doesn’t lose. “I don't know. I was expecting a bit more out of myself. I don't know. I was expecting like another real deep run. I put a lot of work in. It's pretty heartbreaking.”
On his part, Berdych, who faces Roberto Bautista Agut in the last 16, said he wasn’t sure he could hear the music that was bothering Kyrgios.
“Well, honestly, difficult. I mean, it was probably on my side. I don't know. But I was really just trying to stay focused. I've been through many very loud matches, so I'm probably very, you know, able to block these things, just leave the noise on the side.”