Irate tennis great John Newcombe is demanding an apology from the Twitter troll who belittled the medal named in his honour as a “teachers’ pet” award.
Controversial star Nick Kyrgios retweeted the post before skipping the Newcombe Medal ceremony on Monday night to instead prepare for the Indian Tennis Premier League (ITPL) starting on Friday.
But while he remains disappointed in Kyrgios’s on-court conduct that led to the world No.13 not being nominated, Newcombe is more peeved at the so-called fan for discrediting the ground-breaking award winner Dylan Alcott.
Alcott became the first wheelchair athlete to receive Australian tennis’s highest honour after successfully defending his Australian Open crown and winning two gold medals at the Rio Paralymics.
The 25-year-old is the toast of Australian sport and Newcombe is livid that anyone could perceive him as anything less.
“Whoever wrote that, that’s a joke. That’s an insult. They should be ashamed of themselves for saying that,” Newcombe said.
“Dylan Alcott deserves an apology.”
Newcombe is among the judges for the award and says he ruled a line through Kyrgios as a nominee after being in the uncomfortable position of watching the 21-year-old’s Shanghai Masters tanking in the company of a bunch of former American greats.
“When Nick got into his trouble in China, I was doing a fantasy camp at my tennis ranch in Texas,” he said.
“I had Rod Laver and Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle and Owen Davidson and some of the former top American players there with the legends and we were all talking about it.
“Tennis playing is not just tennis playing. It’s how you conduct yourself.
“I don’t know whether some people understand but you’re actually representing Australia when you’re out there and we were all very conscious of that when we were playing – how we conducted ourselves.
“But as you go through life, everybody has choices and you make a choice to do one thing or the other and that’s every individual’s right.”
An unabashed admirer of Kyrgios’s talent, Newcombe believes the two-time grand slam quarter-finalist can contend for majors and climb into the top four in 2017.
But he wants the 2014 Newcombe Medallist – and Bernard Tomic too – to start behaving better.
“I mean, you don’t have to be a goodie goodie,” he said.
“Look, Nick’s popular when he plays. People love watching him play and I love watching him play.
“But you just feel let down when he lets himself down. I feel really sorry for him when he lets himself down because he’s such an entertaining player to watch.
“If he gets control of emotions or whatever it is that upsets him, he’s top four in the world – no problem.”
Kyrgios is again playing for the defending champion Singapore Slammers in the ITPL and teaming with grand slam giant Serena Williams, former world No.1 Carlos Moya and Australian Open finalists Marcos Baghdatis and Rainer Schuttler.