Goran Ivanisevic believes people should cut Nick Kyrgios some slack, the Croatian legend admitting that he himself tanked during matches when he was a player.
Kyrgios, who exited Wimbledon in the fourth round with a tight four-set loss to Richard Gasquet on Monday, was booed on court by some fans when he appeared to not try to return his French opponent’s serves during the third game of the second set.
The Aussie then fought back to win the third set and had set points to win the fourth and force a decider before succumbing to Gasquet.
The ITF Official Grand Slam Rule Book states that: “A player shall use his best efforts to win a match when competing in a Grand Slam Tournament. Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $20,000 for each violation.”
There were two fines handed out by the tournament’s referee’s office for that match – one $2,000 to Kyrgios for audible obscenity – he cursed on court when he got broken early in the second set – and one $3,000 fine to Gasquet for smashing his racquet after dropping the third set.
Throwing a racket, brat. Debating the rules, disrespectful. Frustrated when competing, spoilt. Showing emotion,… http://t.co/QDvnaUNYxZ
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) July 7, 2015
Kyrgios did not receive a code violation for not giving his best effort and the referees office have stated no more fines will be handed out.
Ivanisevic, a Wimbledon champion in 2001, believes Kyrgios is being unfairly criticised.
“(Tanking that one game) was bad, but I did that so many times so I’m not the guy you should ask about that. It can happen when you flip a little bit,” Ivanisevic told Sport360. “It’s not fair to the crowd, to the opponent it’s not nice – I have to say because I did it and I’m not proud of that. But he’s young. You always learn from your mistakes.
“Hopefully he doesn’t do that again. If he does it like 10 times then it’s bad but if he does it one time, don’t kill the guy.
“Now they’re putting him on the cross like they’re going to kill him. He’s young, he’s a good tennis player, he’s fun. Let him be. He’s going to learn from his mistakes, he’s going to pay for his mistakes. He’s going to change.”
Kyrgios has been at the centre of several controversies this fortnight at Wimbledon particularly regarding his behaviour on court and his run-ins with the umpires. But Ivanisevic feels the 20-year-old’s fiery character is good for the sport.
“It’s a good thing. They complain that there aren’t too many characters in tennis, they complain it’s boring, and then you have a character now, it’s not good again? How are you going to please everybody?”
Gasquet said he had “no problem” with Kyrgios while Roger Federer weighed in on the situation and said he felt the match was a hotly-contested fourth round.
“In my opinion, it was a great match and it was close. The fans got their money’s worth, in my opinion,” said the Swiss.
Kyrgios was visibly upset during his press conference, saying he felt “misunderstood” and alluded to the fact that the negative media reaction to him had taken its toll.
“He’s young, he’s a good player, he’s fun. Let him be” – Ivanisevic
“There’s a lot of things going on at the moment that aren’t focusing on actual tennis. There’s just a lot of stuff going on,” he said.
Andy Murray, one of Kyrgios’ early supporters, knows a thing or two about facing the media from a young age and had some words of advice for the world No29.
“Just try to be yourself and not listen too much to what the media say sometimes because I can imagine for him right now it’s very difficult,” said Murray.
“Every day there’s something different getting said. Some people like the way he behaves, some people don’t. When you’re 19, you don’t know exactly who you are at that age. You just need a bit of time to develop. But he’ll be fine, I’m sure.”
*As ambassadors for HSBC, the official banking partner of the Championships, Goran Ivanisevic, Tim Henman and Lindsay Davenport took local children from Bishop Gilpin Church of England Primary School for a coaching session on HSBC Court 20 as part of the bank’s grassroots initiatives