World No.2 Andy Murray has thrown his support behind Nick Kyrgios over his Rio Games selection row with Australian Olympic team boss Kitty Chiller.
Chiller last week reiterated that Kyrgios was “on watch” for behavioural reasons ahead of the tennis team selection, saying his recent comments on the issue on social media suggested he didn’t understand what it meant to be an Australian Olympian.
But Murray suggested Kyrgios was somewhat misunderstood, saying he has shown far more maturity this year and deserves to go to Rio.
“I think Nick’s behaved pretty good this year,” Murray told the Daily Mail.
“He is funny, polite, he makes fun of himself, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And I think he does seem to be learning all of the time.”
“Every week just now he’s doing well. He’s playing matches, he’s travelling more, he’s playing more events. So I hope for him that he is there (at the Rio Olympics).”
Murray – who beat Novak Djokovic on Sunday night to win the Rome Open as he ramps up his preparations for the French Open next week – is no stranger to negative publicity himself, and remains a close ally of Kyrgios off the court.
World No.19 Kyrgios had all but dared “that Kitty Chiller” and selectors to overlook him for Rio.
But Tennis Australia stood by their controversial star after Chiller’s comments, saying he had made a concerted effort to improve his performance and behaviour this year.
Kyrgios then took to social media to launch a Facebook poll on whether he should be allowed to head to the Olympics.
“Fiery passion and intense competitiveness to me are the things that represent the elite level of sport,” he wrote.