Kygrios denies targeting brother's girlfriend in outburst
Nick Kyrgios' player box remains one of the most terrifying places to watch a tennis match.
The enigmatic Aussie admits he's a "nutcase on the court" and often needs to let off steam by yelling at those who are closest to him.
On Monday night it took just two games for Nick Kyrgios to start muttering angrily to himself during his straight sets win in the first round at the Australian Open.
The Aussie failed to take advantage of a break point in the first game of the match, then was broken in the second as Portugal's Frederico Ferreira Silva took a 2-0 lead in the opening set.
Waiting to receive again, Kyrgios seemed to say it was "unbelievable" he'd coughed up an early lead and appeared to chastise his box.
"Are you awake? You're saying one thing for two games," Kyrgios said.
His murmurings were followed by a marathon third game and after botching a seventh break point, Kyrgios shouted to a member of his entourage: "Tell your girlfriend to get out of my box."
It's unclear who the comment was directed at, though his brother Christos was present in the box with his partner, Alicia Gowans, as well as his sister, Halimah, and his dad, Giorgos.
Asked about the outburst in a press conference after his 6-4 6-4 6-4 win, Kyrgios said he got carried away in the moment.
"Mate, I'm a nutcase when I'm on court," Kyrgios said. "It was just heat of the battle type stuff. It was just being out there, all those emotions again, you outlet into people you know have your back and you know that's not going to change.
"A lot of people can relate to outbursting, you know, you just need to verbalise it and lash out on someone sometimes and then I calm down and start playing some decent tennis."
Asked specifically if Alicia was doing anything in particular that was bothering him, Kyrgios was quick to say: "Nah, it wasn't her. It wasn't her. Nah."
The vocal release seemed to work as Kyrgios finally broke back and then held serve for 2-2, before going on a roll to claim the opening set 6-4.
With his temper tantrums out of the way, Kyrgios could concentrate on playing somewhere near his best and when he locked in his serve he was unstoppable.
He got some rapid points off his own racquet - including a blistering 46-second hold in the eighth game of the second set - as he took a two-sets-to-love lead.
It looked like Kyrgios would maintain the rage in the third but after being broken to love in the second game, he blew up again, appearing to yell at his box once more.
Thankfully it was just a minor speed bump and Kyrgios unleashed his full array of strokes - including an incredible drop shot tweener winner - as he motored to a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory.
"It was special. I appreciate you guys coming out. Obviously a very strange year last year. We all overcame it together to make this possible," Kyrgios said when asked what it meant to be back on his favourite court in the world.
"I'm just super appreciative of you guys coming out. It was amazing. It felt normal, to be honest. You guys were going nuts, it was good to see. Hopefully we can continue to do it."
Kyrgios had a truncated lead-in to the year's first grand slam as COVID-19 interrupted things but there were signs his temper was fraying as he played a warm-up event in Melbourne last week.
The 25-year-old struggled with a knee injury as he crashed to a straight sets defeat to Borna Coric at the Murray River Open on Friday. The 25-year-old received a warning for an expletive-laden tirade at 4-4 in the second set as f-bombs were the order of the day, then he cracked it completely after being broken, smashing his racquet and throwing it into the stands which, thankfully, were empty.
That dummy spit came after Kyrgios lost his cool in his second round match against Harry Bourchier, where he blew up about receiving a time violation and threatened to walk off the court.
Originally published as 'Tell your girlfriend to get out of my box'