Lleyton Hewitt says he’s got Nick Kyrgios’s back after Andy Murray accused the British press of winding the young tennis hot-head up.
For the second year running, Kyrgios’s clashes with officialdom and local reporters have overshadowed another exciting run to the second week at the All England Club.
The 21-year-old copped fines for swearing in both his first two wins and was baited into a fiery verbal exchange during his post-match press conference after his second-round victory.
Kyrgios also came under fire on social media for calling his entourage “retarded” during his third-round battle with Feliciano Lopez that was locked at one set all when darkness forced the players off on Saturday night.
Murray, the local hero who could face Kyrgios in the fourth round on Monday, suggested it was time for the tabloids to lay off the Australian.
“You guys try and wind him up the whole time,” Murray said after eliminating Kyrgios’s countryman John Millman.
“It’s not really fair on him, to be honest.
“When he makes a mistake, yeah, it’s fine.
“I don’t have a problem reporting on him making a mistake or doing something wrong.
“But it happens a lot where it doesn’t seem like he’s really done much in comparison to what other players are doing – and he’s the one that gets asked all the questions about it.
“Obviously I’m sure over time he’ll start to do better and understand better how to deal with all of the attention and the questions and stuff.
“But sometimes he hasn’t done loads wrong and he’s got a rough ride.”
Hewitt, who mentors Kyrgios in his role as Davis Cup captain, agreed the Australian No.1 was undoubtedly under more scrutiny than most players.
Hewitt even said Spanish player Nicolas Almagro, who clashed with the umpire and fans during a niggly doubles loss to Hewitt and Jordan Thompson on Saturday may have been disqualified for his antics had he been Kyrgios.
“I’ve no doubt they (officials) are probably on him a little bit more, absolutely,” Hewitt said.
“You’ve just got to look at that doubles match we played then.
“If that was Nick out there, then we may have finished two hours ago with a walkover. Stuff like that, yeah absolutely.”
Hewitt said he hadn’t seen Kyrgios “do too much wrong here”.
“He knows I’ve got his back and we talk about things at different times,” he said.
“For him it’s more about focusing on what he’s got to do here.
“Obviously it would be nice to not have any little confrontations going on during the tournament but, in his situation, I guess we’re lucky that he can still go out there and play well.
“So it’s not going to actually disrupt his preparation in the tournament.”