John McEnroe lashed Nick Kyrgios’ “bonehead” behaviour as tennis’ most polarising personality made a tough first-round exit from the US Open in New York.
McEnroe was left flabbergasted by Kyrgios’ audacious shot selection during his 7-5 6-3 4-6 6-1 loss to Scottish third seed Andy Murray at Flushing Meadows.
A huge admirer of Kyrgios, McEnroe had applauded the 20-year-old pre-match for his decision to turn to Lleyton Hewitt as a mentor.
McEnroe, though, said Hewitt ought to have walked out from his courtside box after Kyrgios fluffed a high-risk between-the-legs half-volley when pushing to break Murray’s serve midway through the second set.
“An absolute brain freeze. Absolute stupidity. He could have volleyed that away for another break-point chance,” McEnroe said on ESPN.
McEnroe lauded Kyrgios for his “top-five skills” but warned “time is slipping away” for the two-time quarter-finalist to capitalise on his “unbelievable opportunity” to challenge for grand slam crowns.
“I hope he learns from these bonehead moves. He should be a seed already, at least 20,” said tennis’ original superbrat.
“You don’t want to be remembered as a clown. You want to be remembered as a player.
“So he better step up. Otherwise he won’t be talked about too much.
“He thinks he’s a Vaudeville entertainer. I don’t know what’s going on here.”
All eyes were on Kyrgios in his first match since being placed on a four-week suspended ban last week for his sledging of French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
It didn’t take long for the young hot-head to set social media alight as tennis types took to Twitter to retweet his early blow-up in the opening set.
After breaking Murray for a 2-1 lead in the third game, Kyrgios was livid at dropping serve the very next game.
He protested to chair umpire Carlos Ramos after fans were allowed to file into Arthur Ashe Stadium during his service game, when it’s customary in tennis for spectators only to be admitted into matches during changeovers.
“What the hell were they doing letting people in in that game?” he protested.
Kyrgios continued his rant as he dropped serve again to concede the first set.
“Middle of the game. Unreal. Such bulls… F…ing bulls…,” he fumed.
Kyrgios’ expletive-laden tirade might have constituted verbal abuse, a no-no that would ordinarily trigger a ban.
But while he’s on probation with the ATP, the sanctions don’t apply at the grand slams, which are governed by the ITF.
An exasperated Kyrgios also received an audible obscenity after dropping his opening game of the fourth set.
Kyrgios’ antics overshadowed an otherwise decent performance from the world No.37.
It was the first time in four meetings that he’d won a set against Murray and he may well have won more – and even the match – had he been able to convert any more than three of his break-point chances.