Nick Kyrgios' spiteful exchanges with some sections of the Wimbledon crowd and his subsequently combative press conference has lead to increasingly heavy criticism.
The 27-year-old managed to scrape past first round challenger Paul Jubb in five sets on Tuesday, but not without controversy - as seems de rigeur for Kyrgios.
The tempermental Australian was once again bothered by what he called 'disrespect' from some sections of the crowd, his frustrations culminating in an ugly moment where he spat on the ground in front of the stands where the fan in question was seated.
Kyrgios also got into a slanging match over calls made by a certain line judge, whom he labelled a 'snitch' and demanded be removed from the court mid-way through the match.
This was followed by a fiesty press conference, in which he went head to head with tennis reporter Caroline Whittaker over his comments about the line judge.
Whittaker later said the salient points Kyrgios brought to the sport were being undermined by his crude attitude off the court - but Australian commentator Erin Molan was substantially harsher in an appearance on Piers Morgan Uncensored.
Molan labelled Kyrgios an 'absolute tool', saying plenty in Australia felt the same way after Morgan described him as an 'antipodean monster'.
"Piers, there's plenty of Australians that think he's an absolute tool as well."
Sky News Australia's Erin Molan says tennis player Nick Kyrgios's rude behaviour is "appalling".@Erin_Molan | @NickKyrgios | @piersmorgan | #NickKyrgios pic.twitter.com/nhi75THvaZ
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) June 29, 2022
“Piers, there’s plenty of Australians who think he’s an absolute tool as well," Molan said.
“I’ve been one of his most vocal critics for a very long time.
“But I’ll tell you what, the spitting even towards someone in their direction is appalling.
“The abuse of anyone in their workplace is appalling, the hypocrisy that he displays is completely appalling."
Molan did credit Kyrgios for his entertaining doubles victory alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Australian Open, but remarked that though he attracts a strong crowd, his performances wer like watching a 'car crash'.
Nick Kyrgios filthy over crowd behaviour at Wimbledon
Kyrgios made no apologies when asked to confirm if he deliberately spat in the direction of the heckler after the match in an incident that shocked onlookers at the All England Club.
"Of one of the people disrespecting me, yes," Kyrgios said following his 3-6 6-1 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 win on court 3.
"I would not be doing that to someone who was supporting me.
"Look, I'm okay with receiving a lot of it. But what I don't understand is as soon as I give it back, for instance in Stuttgart I gave it back, I got a game penalty.
"Today, as soon as I won the match, I turned to him... I've been dealing with hate and negativity for a long time, so I don't feel like I owed that person anything.
"Like, he literally came to the match to literally just, like, not even support anyone really. It was more just to, like, stir up and disrespect.
"That's fine. But if I give it back to you, then that's just how it is."
Kyrgios spent much of the three-hour, five-minute encounter complaining to the chair umpire about sections of the crowd and also took aim at several on-court officials.
Australian sport's most polarising figure said he had no regrets calling one lineswoman a "snitch".
"No, why? That's what she did," Kyrgios said.
"I didn't do anything and she went to the umpire and told her something that I didn't say. That's called whistleblowing."
The 27-year-old told another lineswoman to "get off the court" after successfully challenging her incorrect call, then claimed she was "the worst I've ever seen".
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