The tennis, as it has been lately for Nick Kyrgios, was encouraging this weekend—a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 rout of Rogerio Dutra Silva in the first round of the Australian Open—but of course it’s never only about the tennis when it comes to Nick.
There was also the way he chose to quiet down a heckler apparently making noise during his service motion. Sensing that the umpire was not doing enough to address the disruption, Kyrgios took the matter into his own hands, issuing a “Shut the fuck up” that resounded through the stadium. He was dinged for unsportsmanlike conduct and took up the issue with the ref during the changeover:
Then there was the press conference after his victory, which left him shut-eyed and speechless after one reporter went fishing for a juicy quote:
REPORTER: You’re friends with the American football player Colin Kaepernick and have been supportive of him in the past. What are your thoughts on his not being signed by an American football team this season?
KYRGIOS: I don’t think I’ve ever spoken a word to him in my life.
REPORTER: Well what are your thoughts about that?
KYRGIOS: I mean, I don’t even—where does that question even come from? We’re at the Australian Open, man. Are we done?
The question was bizarre, but not entirely baseless. Nick Kyrgios kneeled before a Laver Cup match in September, on a day when several NFL teams sat or kneeled during the national anthem. Kaepernick famously kneeled during the 2016 season in protest of the structural oppression of black people in America; Kyrgios’s gesture could have been been interpreted as solidarity, given the timing. (Kyrgios also shares an agent with Kaepernick, Carlos Fleming at WME/IMG.)
At that time, a representative for Kyrgios told Deadspin that it was “a tribute to his grandfather who passed away earlier this year, as well as his grandmother, both very important people to him ... His gesture didn’t have anything to do with what’s been going on in the States this past weekend.”