Tennis legend John Newcombe has lashed veteran umpire Mohamed Lahyani for “winding up” Nick Kyrgios and urged officials to give Australia’s big Wimbledon hope a fair go.
Newcombe, a three-time champion at the All England Club, questioned why Lahyani was even appointed to Kyrgios’s first-round tussle with Radek Stepanek after the pair clashed last year.
After taking the unusual measure of advising Kyrgios pre-match to “be careful with the language and try to keep the racquet in your hand”, Lahyani issued the 21-year-old with a code violation for swearing after the third set.
But Newcombe thought Kyrgios’s “behaviour was good” in the circumstances and accused the Swedish umpire of being an attention seeker.
“I thought the umpires were right out of line,” Newcombe told AAP.
“Umpires like that, they kind of feel like they’re the centre of attention. It’s all about them.
“He was talking to Nick at the coin toss like a headmaster to a pupil. It’s just winding him up.
“And why did they put that umpire on (Kyrgios’s match)? They had history last year.”
Kyrgios was fined $US2500 ($A3,380) for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result of his code violation and fellow former Australian Davis Cup captain Wally Masur also believes the young firebrand is being treated a tad harsh.
“I reckon I’ve seen worse go by unpunished,” Masur said of Kyrgios’s “bullshit” remark.
“Is it balanced? Is it in proportion? I watched a lot of the French Open and I commentated on a lot of Andy Murray’s matches (for Fox Sports) and I had to put ear plugs in.”
Bernard Tomic has also come under fire once again at Wimbledon, this time for flippantly saying he felt “like a retard” while left on court for eight minutes waiting for his second-round opponent to arrive.
Tomic duly apologised on Thursday and Masur says Australia’s top two men’s players are widely misunderstood.
“I defend those guys for a lot of reasons and I cop it myself in the media, so I’m not here to change public opinions,” he said.
“I just want those guys move forward and keep winning and hopefully it’s positive stories.
“Bernie can certainly play on grass and we know what Nick’s capable of here, so maybe they can go on and the story becomes about their tennis.”
Kyrgios has the chance to let his racquet do the talking when he resumes his title push on Friday against German wildcard Dustin Brown, while Tomic returns on Saturday to play 14th seed Roberto Bautista-Agut for a spot in the third round.