Nick Kyrgios claims he was racially abused by fans after going down to Andy Murray in a bad-tempered Stuttgart Open semi-final.
In familiar fashion, Kyrgios got embroiled in arguments and controversy, both with the crowd and the chair umpire, before being beaten 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 by the rejuvenated former World No.1 Murray.
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The 27-year-old destroyed a racquet after losing the first set tiebreak to Murray, before unravelling in a now all too-familiar meltdown in the second set.
He then took to social media after the match to reveal that he lost his cool after being racially vilified by someone in the crowd.
"When is this going to stop? Dealing with racial slurs from the crowd?" he wrote on Instagram.
"I understand that my behaviour isn't the best all the time - but 'you little black sheep', 'shut up and play' - little comments like this are not acceptable.
"When I retaliate to the crowd, I get penalised. This is messed up."
In a lengthy post on Instagram, Kyrgios made an impassioned plea for fans to stop abusing professional athletes after suggesting that it had become the 'norm' after years of incidents.
Britain's two-time Wimbledon champion Murray was left admitting the match "wasn't fun in the end" as he reflected on the latest controversy involving Kyrgios, a friend he still believes has the talent to be one of the world's best players.
The match had a similar feeling to a few of Kyrgios' in American earlier this year when he ended up copping a total of $US 60,000 in fines for his behaviour at both Indian Wells and the Miami Open.
His latest meltdown may incur further wrath from the ATP as he argued with the crowd and ended up being jeered off court.
In what had been an entertaining and hard-fought clash in the first set, a frustrated Kyrgios got a code violation early in the tiebreak and then copped a point penalty after losing the set on what seemed a bad bounce on the final point.
Andy Murray through after Nick Kyrgios unravels
Still raging as the second set kicked off, he was broken straight away after throwing in a couple of double faults and, amid arguments with the umpire and the crowd, was then docked a one-game penalty.
Kyrgios momentarily refused to continue playing, sitting in his chair until the supervisor emerged to convince him to play on.
Having lost his focus completely, the Australian then delivered a numerous errors as Murray sealed his spot in the final comfortably.
"You're always kind of battling yourself as well as the opponent, it's one of the difficult things about individual sports," said Murray, after reaching the 70th final of his distinguished career.
"Nick has the potential to be one of the best players in the world, there's absolutely no question about that. But, yeah, he obviously got very frustrated in the second set and made it a lot easier for me.
"It wasn't fun in the end. The second set wasn't a proper match. The end of the first set was deciding."
In the final, Murray, whose revival at the age of 35 after career-saving hip surgery is quite inspirational, will face second seed Matteo Berrettini, who, playing his first Tour-level final of the season, beat Germany's Oscar Otte 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5) in the other semi-final.
Kyrgios had earlier been involved in a series of entertaining rallies, also enchanting the crowd with his underarm serve and 'tweeners'.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray, who had beaten top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas the previous day, is in his first grass-court final for six years, since he beat Milos Raonic for his second Wimbledon title in 2016.
"It has been a long time since the last final [on grass]. A lot of ups and downs, but I kept going and kept working and finally managed to get to another one. I am proud of the effort I have put in," he said.
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