Nick Kyrgios lashed out at a reporter who dared ask him about a racquet smash that almost hit a ball boy after his stormy defeat to Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells.
The Aussie lost a tense deciding set in the quarter-final clash before exploding in rage.
After shaking hands with his opponent and the umpire, Kyrgios hurled his racquet into the ground – inadvertently sending it charging down the court towards the ball boy. It would have likely struck the youngster, had they not taken evasive action.
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However, Kyrgios initially tried to downplay the incident, insisting it was nothing like Alexander Zverev’s shocking outburst in Acapulco. Zverev was handed a suspended eight-week ban and a suspended $25,000 (£19,000) fine after whacking the umpire’s chair with his racquet after a doubles defeat – narrowly missing Alessandro Germani’s feet – and branding him a “f****** idiot”.
“What would you like me to say about it? Obviously, was that my intention? No. Because I threw a racquet. Did I throw the racquet anywhere near him originally?" Kyrgios said.
"It landed a metre from my foot and skidded and nearly hit him. I’m human. Things happen like that. Obviously it was a very misfortunate bounce.
"I think if I did that a million times over it wouldn’t have gone that way. And what do you want me to say? It was three metres away from the kid.
"That’s a question you’re going to say after a three-hour battle against Nadal. That’s what you come here with?”
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When told that the ball kid had to duck, Kyrgios continued: "He ducked. Jesus. All right. It was an accident. It was most definitely not like Zverev.
"I didn’t hit him, thankfully. It wasn’t my intention. So thankfully the ball kid’s okay. Great question, though. Unbelievable stuff."
Kyrgios later apologised on Instagram for the incident.
"Hey guys, I just wanna apologise to that ball kid at the end of the match!" he wrote.
"It was a complete accident and was frustrated at the end of the match. My racket took a crayz bounce and was never my intention.
"If anyone knows who that ball kid is, send me a message and I will send a racket to him, I'm glad he's OK."
It capped a turbulent outing for Kyrgios, who was docked a penalty point during the first set tie-break after telling a boisterous crowd to “shut the f*** up”. He was down 6-0 at the time, meaning he lost the set.
He recovered brilliantly to force a decider against the recent Australian Open champion, but fell short as Nadal extended his winning streak in 2022 to 19 matches.
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