Nick Kyrgios has hit back at being called "an absolute k***" and being told he has the maturity of a "10-year-old" by a fellow pro at the Australian Open.
It was made abundantly clear that doubles player Michael Venus is not a fan of the home favourite and the antics which have helped to make him so wildly popular at Melbourne Park and beyond.
Venus and his partner, Tim Putz, lost a thrilling three-set doubles quarter-final to Kyrgios and the Australian's friend and compatriot, Thanasi Kokkinakis, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6. It was a match that was made all the more memorable due to Kyrgios blasting a wild and unnecessary shot into the crowd and hitting a child before running over and giving him a racquet to say sorry.
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The New Zealander launched into a rant about the flak he copped from the fans during the defeat on Tuesday in what he described as "not really a tennis match" while slating Kyrgios's maturity level. With the fiery Australian having now won through to the final alongside Kokkinakis, despite losing his cool in a big way, he has responded to the accusations.
"Michael Venus, I’m not going to destroy him in this media conference room right now," Kyrgios said. "But Zeballos and Granollers are singles players. They’ve had great careers. I respect them a lot more than I respect Michael Venus.
"I think the balance was there today. The quality of tennis was amazing. I think the festival atmosphere was still there. I think they embraced it. They knew it was an incredible atmosphere.
"Zeballos took a selfie with us before we walked out. That’s how you embrace an atmosphere. You’re not losing a match and then getting salty about it afterwards. It’s ridiculous.”
Kokkinakis agreed, adding: "I think for the most part it’s not us trying to disrespect the opponents. It’s us trying to get the crowd going to just increase the atmosphere.
"Sometimes the opponents take it personally. That’s what happened with the Croatians that we played, the No. 1 seeds. That’s obviously ... Michael took offence to that.
"We’re not doing anything directly to them to try and disrespect them. We’re just trying to get the crowd even more hyped, and then some of them take it personally."

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Venus had told 1News: "It felt like a circus out there, and not really a tennis match.
"Between serves, [they were] geeing the crowd up and getting them to cheer at times like that. I don’t think that’s really on. You know, if it’s on the other foot, old mate [Kyrgios] would have flipped his lid.
"He already did get mad there by himself. It’s amazing, he can smash a ball out that hits a kid and just because he gives them a racquet afterwards people can say he is such a good guy. Anytime you were going back to get the balls to serve, people were making comments about yourself, your family.
"On the maturity side, you see why he has never fulfilled his potential and probably never will. His maturity level, it is probably being generous to [say] about a 10-year-old, it’s at about that level.
"The amount of messages I got from people, an extreme amount, way, way more than I’ve ever had but then a lot of messages from people saying how embarrassed they were with the crowd’s behaviour and they’re sorry, it shouldn’t have been like that.
"They will always be his supporters and he’ll spin it in a way that helps him, but at the end of the day he’s an absolute k***."

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It has been another Australian Open to remember from Kyrgios, despite his relatively early exit in the singles. From fiery exchanges with umpires to crazy showboats and even calling out a fitness coach of an opponent for trying to start a fight in the players' gym.
He and Kokkinakis now have the opportunity to secure their maiden Grand Slam titles in an all-Australian men's doubles final on Saturday night.

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30/06/2022 AT 13:54