Tennis legend John McEnroe has criticised Nick Kyrgios for his post-match outburst after the devastating US Open quarter-final defeat to Karen Khachanov.
Kyrgios was visibly upset after the heart-stopping 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 loss to the Russian in the last eight at Flushing Meadows.
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The Aussie shook hands with his opponent and the chair umpire, before obliterating his tennis racquet on court.
Having destroyed the first one, the 27-year-old proceeded to demolish another racquet on the Arthur Ashe centre court, as his emotions came pouring out.
McEnroe says he understands how disappointed Kyrgios must have been, but insists the Aussie went "too far" in his on-court blow-up.
“That was after the match so it was a little unbecoming because - I get he’s frustrated - but this is when [Karen] Khachanov is walking in the centre of the court [saying], ‘Thank you very much the eight people that were on my side’. So that was going too far - I know something about that," he told Eurosport.
The American great - who was renowned for his temper tantrums as a player - says the big positive out of Kyrgios' reaction was that it showed just how much he wanted to win.
“Nick obviously does that almost every match. We saw the full Nick there. To me, I’ve always said it’s better to go out and try and fail than to not try at all. So he’s finally gotten there. We need to encourage him to keep going and battling”, McEnroe added.
Kyrgios has often been criticised for his attitude towards tennis, but seven-time major winner Mats Wilander agreed that his US Open heartbreak showed a new side to the Aussie.
“He’s got to build up some respect in the locker room for being a competitor, a fighter, and that’s what he did," Wilander said on Eurosport.
"I mean, he fought to the very last point and to show that he’s frustrated - yes, I don’t like when you break the racquets, you know that - but he showed he cares now."
Kyrgios expressed his desire to return home and see his family a number of times throughout the North American hard-court swing.
When asked if he would play again this year he said: “Honestly I don't even really care about any other tournament. Like, I feel like at the grand slams, now having success at a grand slam, it’s just like no other tournament really matters.
Grand slam or bust for Nick Kyrgios
"It’s like you get better, you get worse, and at a grand slam none of it matters. You either win or lose.
“People don’t care if you got better on the day, or you lost (in) four (or) in the fifth, or you played one of the best matches of the tournament – you lost.
“That’s all people remember at a grand slam, whether you win or you lose.
“I think pretty much every other tournament during the year is a waste of time. You just front up, show up at a grand slam. It’s what you’re remembered by.
"These four tournaments are the only ones that are ever going to matter. And it’s just like you’ve got to start it all again, and I have to wait to the Australian Open.
“It’s just devastating. It’s heartbreaking. Not just for me but for everyone I know who wants me to win.”
McEnroe said while he gets Kyrgios' frustration, he doesn't agree with the Aussie's assessment about the non-grand slam tournaments.
“He’s paid his dues the last three to six months - he’s played a lot more tournaments. I wouldn’t poo poo the other tournaments completely, because that sets you up ranking wise so he would get easier draws potentially - that’s important. But obviously he’s right that people are going to remember how you do in the Slams.”
Kyrgios has withdrawn from the upcoming Laver Cup so he can return home to family - particularly his mother, who he revealed has not been in the best of health.
McEnroe - who is captain of the Team World side that Kyrgios would have been part of - hopes that after the Aussie recharges at home with family, he can ramp up preparations for the Australian summer and build on what has been a career-best year.
“He says he wants to go home and see his family - his mum, he’s been talking about has been ill - we obviously totally get it," McEnroe said.
“I hope he does play some more matches because [he can] set himself up for Australia where he could be a top ten, top eight seed potentially if he actually did something.
"You can see when he’s on his game he can beat anybody. He’s got to ride this wave because to me, if he lets it go it’s going to be even harder to get it back."
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