Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge has criticised Nick Kyrgios after a photo emerged of him riding an e-scooter without a helmet. The photo came to light on Sunday ahead of the Australian Open, showing Kyrgios and girlfriend Costeen Hatzi riding the scooter on Elizabeth Street in Melbourne.
In the photo, Kyrgios and Hatzi are both seen without a helmet - one of which can be seen hanging off the handlebars of the scooter. Laws in Victoria state that helmets must be worn on e-scooters, which can reach speeds of up to 20 km/h.
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Talk of the incident came up during Channel 9's pre-game coverage on Monday morning, with Woodbridge rather unimpressed. The Aussie great said: "It's not a good look."
Channel 9 host Tony Jones said: "You never know what to expect from Nick Kyrgios with when he heads into a tournament. You never know what to expect from Nick Kyrgios when he wakes up in the morning ."
However others have defended Kyrgios in the face of criticism, with Aussie basketball star Andrew Bogut among them. Bogut wrote on social media: “Such a nanny state! Fine him for not taking his OWN safety seriously”. Kyrgios responded to Bogut's post: “Nah it’s too much now”.
Victoria Police have since said in a statement: “Police are aware of an online image of a man riding a scooter in Melbourne’s CBD without a helmet. Although it’s unclear when the image was taken, Melbourne Highway Patrol, now that they’re aware, will make enquiries in relation to the incident.”
Despite the controversy, Woodbridge talked up Kyrgios' chances of making a deep run at Melbourne Park. The World No.21 is coming off a career year in which he reached the final at Wimbledon and quarters at the US Open. However he faces a tricky draw that could see him come up against ninth seed Holger Rune and fourth seed Andrey Rublev.
"Yes, he can get through his first couple of rounds but he potentially has Holger Rune, then you've potentially got Andrey Rublev in the round after that, and then in the quarters you would have Novak Djokovic," Woodbridge said. "For him to go deep, he will have to go really hard and bring something extra special.
"We know he can do it. It's totally up to him to keep it all in check and just play the ball and don't play anything else that is in and around the game here - the crowd, the expectations, Just play the ball and he will do well."
Nick Kyrgios not worried about lack of match practice
The latest controversy will come as an unwanted distraction for Kyrgios ahead of his first-round clash with Roman Safiullin of Russia on Tuesday. The Aussie star hasn't played a tour-level singles match since October after suffering an ankle injury at an exhibition event in Dubai in December.
He withdrew from the United Cup and Adelaide International as a result, before playing an exhibition match against Novak Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena on Friday night. Despite the lack of match practice, Kyrgios said he doesn't think it will come back to haunt him.
"I have always been a player that doesn't need too many matches," he told reporters on Saturday. "I played 12 to 13 events last year which felt like that was a lot of tennis.
"Obviously there are players that need a lot of matches going into a grand slam but me, I just like to feel fresh, I like to feel like I've got everything under control."
Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur are Australia's great hopes at Melbourne Park following the retirement of 2022 champion Ash Barty. Kyrgios said it was a 'privilege' to have the 'favourite' tag for the Aussie contingent.
"Everyone wants to get to a position in their sport or their profession to be one of the best and have that expectation and pressure," he said. "It's a privilege to go out there and feel that Australia wants me to win and to be one of the favourites - it's a good feeling.
"I walked in here at the Australian Open maybe eight, nine years ago as a wildcard and now to see how my career has unfolded, to get to a point where everyone kind of expects me to win and go far, it's a good feeling. But there's a lot of stress, as well. I see it everywhere, on social media, everyone talking about it - 'How are you feeling about Australian Open? You're one of the favourites'. It's hard to kind of just focus on what I need to do."
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