A sporting Nick Kyrgios is refusing to blame the controversy and drama swirling around him for his first-round departure from the US Open in New York.
The human headline admitted the past three weeks had been “tough” in the wake of his infamous sledge of Stan Wawrinka that rocked the tennis world and landed the 20-year-old in hot water with officialdom.
Kyrgios, though, admitted third-seeded former champion Andy Murray was simply too classy in a 7-5 6-3 4-6 6-1 victory under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night.
“I thought I played well. I created opportunities. I didn’t serve my best yet I still put myself in some winning positions. I just didn’t come away with the win,” Kyrgios said.
Trying to move on, Kyrgios said he understood there could be lingering animosity among fans but he hoped to restore his reputation.
“(There are) still people in the crowd that are unhappy with what happened, and that’s only normal,” he said.
“I’d like to think that I’m going to learn from it. I think I have.
“I think I’m on the right path. I don’t think any of us in this room right now were perfect at 20. Speak up if you were.”
Asked directly what he’d learned, Kyrgios said: “Keep your mouth shut at times”.
He wasn’t always able to do that against Murray, the mercurial youngster receiving an audible obscenity after dropping serve early in the fourth set and also fuming early in the match at the chair umpire after spectators were allowed into the arena during one of his service games.
But the 20-year-old said he wished fans would cut him some slack – and also urged the critics to lay off fellow Australian young guns Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis, who Kyrgios dragged into the controversy with his taunting of Wawrinka in Montreal.
“I don’t think Thanasi is in that (bad boy) category,” Kyrgios said.
“Myself and Bernard, it’s so funny; Bernard, he’s harmless. He’s just a normal kid.
“I don’t really understand where he gets this reputation from, or where I get it from at all.
“We show emotion out there. We might not be the most usual tennis players you see.
“Somehow we got this reputation that’s just ridiculous.”