Kyrgios created more negative headlines at Queen’s Club on Thursday after getting involved in rows with two umpires and throwing a racket over the stands following defeat to Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Queen’s was Kyrgios’ first ATP tournament since he was defaulted from the Italian Open in Rome last month after throwing a chair across the court, and gave an interview to the No Challenges Remaining podcast in which he criticised Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios labelled Djokovic’s celebration, where he throws his arms out to the fans, “cringeworthy”, and said: “I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him.”
The 24-year-old certainly brings attention to tennis, something McEnroe was and is no stranger to, but he felt Kyrgios’ comments about Djokovic were a misstep.
Asked if Kyrgios’ outspoken attitude is a positive for the sport, the American said: “I guess if you look at it from that standpoint, if you are a believer in ‘any press is good press’, you can make that argument.
“If you say Novak, he’s too busy waving to the crowd, is that the best you can come up with? That he has decided to turn to all four parts of the stadium? I mean, come on. Doesn’t he deserve it since he has won 15 slams? He can do whatever the hell he wants.”
McEnroe can empathise with Kyrgios’ antics on court but finds the variation in his effort levels hard to swallow.
“I have talked with him,” said the Eurosport pundit.
“Nick is a good guy. I think the people around him like him. The players like him. They don’t like what he does on the court sometimes.
“I don’t think he could even say, ‘I like the fact that I try half the time’. I mean, how could anyone think that’s ultimately (good)?
“I wasn’t known as the easiest person to deal with. So, to me that person has to be ready to embrace whoever that is (trying to help). They have to be willing to listen to the person.
“He’s 24-years-old. He brings an electricity to tennis. That’s why everyone is trying to figure a way to work through this so he can get to a place where he can go out and feel free to compete and give the effort.
“I don’t care if he throws a chair on the court or does what he does. The part that I have a problem with, and I am assuming 99 per cent of the rest of the tour do, is when you go out there and don’t seem like you are giving an effort half of the time.”
Patience with Kyrgios that was more forthcoming when he was a teenager and in his early 20s appears to rapidly be running out, and the Australian shows no sign of changing any time soon.
Asked whether he believes Kyrgios will one day regret not making more of his talent, McEnroe said: “It would be hard to believe he wouldn’t think (that).
“He seems in certain ways not to care what people think. And that can be empowering. Alienating yourself, it takes some guts in a way to put yourself out there.
“He doesn’t need to say what he said about Novak. People are already talking. He could turn it into tennis hypothetically and still people would talk about him.”
Andy Murray enjoyed a winning return to competitive action as he and Feliciano Lopez sank top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah at Queen’s Club on Thursday.
Former world number one and three-time grand slam winner Murray is making his tentative comeback from what he hopes was career-saving hip surgery in the doubles at the Fever-Tree Championships.
And a bumper Centre Court crowd was treated to some vintage Murray as the five-time Queen’s singles champion and his Spanish partner ran out 7-6 (5) 6-3 winners.
It had only been 143 days since Murray, fearing being forced into retirement, underwent the hip resurfacing surgery, following a series of emotional goodbyes at the Australian Open in January.
Crucially, Murray felt in good shape afterwards, with no pain whatsoever in his hip.
He said: “I learnt quite a bit tonight. I sort of expected to be the worst player on the court, which was probably the case in the first set.
“But then I think I started to play better in the second and started to serve a bit better, see the returns a little bit better and things.
“I have zero discomfort in my hip, like, nothing. And if I had done this last year, you know, I’d be here aching, throbbing, and feel bad the next day.
“So I’ll just keep pushing and see how it goes. But I feel optimistic about the future. I don’t know how long it will take to get to that level, but, you know, hopefully not too long.”
Nick Kyrgios accused officials of “rigging” his first-round match at the Fever-Tree Championships and admonished himself for “playing FIFA until 3am”.
The outspoken Australian, renowned for his on-court outbursts and meltdowns, launched an expletive-ridden rant at umpire Fergus Murphy after missing a set point against Roberto Carballes Baena, claiming the Spaniard had double-faulted.
He said: “Bro you are taking the f****** p*** mate? The ball was this far out, no joke. No joke. What are you doing? It’s so far long. What are you doing?
“Like, what are you actually doing up there? It was this far out. Bro, it’s taking the p***. I refuse to play.”
After Murphy issued a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct, Kyrgios continued his tirade.
“It couldn’t have been further out. What are you doing? Jesus. Was that not out, the second serve? It’s a joke, man. It’s a serious joke,” he said. “Like, your hat looks ridiculous, also. It’s not even sunny.”
After another point, Kyrgios added: “The ball was this far out on the second serve. I’m going. I’m not going to give 100 per cent when I’ve got linesmen rigging the game, I don’t want to play.
“You wonder why I don’t try half the time. Literally the set had finished, he double-faulted. Why am I playing at 5-5? Absolute joke.”
Having won the first set on a tie-break, Kyrgios was closing in on the match when he hit a poor lob to gift Carballes Baena a point.
“So lazy, do something, so lazy you are,” he muttered to himself. “You were playing FIFA until 3am, what do you expect?”
In the final game Kyrgios, 40-0 down, petulantly began returning from just outside the service line and somehow wrapped up the match 7-6 (4) 6-3.
As if that were not enough, Kyrgios faced a second match due to rain delays earlier in the week, and was beaten in three sets by Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime.
It was a tame affair by comparison, although Kyrgios still managed to collect a code violation after smacking a ball right out of Queen’s Club.
Provided by Press Association Sport