Sports, Tennis

Tsitsipas says comments about Kyrgios ‘misinterpreted’

By Reuters
Published : 24 Jun 2023 09:06 PM

StefanosTsitsipas has said comments he made about Nick Kyrgios at last year's Wimbledon have been "misinterpreted", after his remarks were featured on Netflix documentary "Break Point" and perceived as racist on social media.

Tsitsipas, 24, was knocked out by Kyrgios in a bad-tempered third-round clash at the grasscourt Grand Slam and described the Australian's approach to tennis as "uneducated", saying he brought "that NBA basketball attitude" to the sport.

The Greek world number five said there had been an "unfortunate misunderstanding that has a distorted picture of my intentions" in a lengthy statement posted to his Facebook page on Saturday.

"It has come to my attention that some individuals have misinterpreted my comments regarding Nick Kyrgios ... insinuating racism where none exists," Tsitsipas wrote.

"I want to emphasize that I harbour no prejudice towards anyone based on their background, ethnicity, or interests. I deeply regret if my words were misinterpreted or caused offence, as that was never my intention." Kyrgios acknowledged Tsitsipas' statement on Saturday and said the pair were "all good".

The Greek added that his remarks were not meant to undermine Kyrgios' ability or intelligence.

"I simply intended to express my perspective on certain aspects of his playing style, drawing comparisons to the passion and intensity often associated with basketball," he said.

"It was an attempt to highlight the dynamic and captivating nature of his approach to the game, not a criticism of his character or capabilities.

"Moving forward, I commit to being more mindful of my words and the impact they may have."

Kyrgios, 28, had prevailed in four sets in a fiery clash where he was warned for swearing while Tsitsipas tried to hit him with a smash after coming close to being defaulted for whacking a ball in frustration into the crowd.

After the match, Tsitsipas labelled Kyrgios a "bully" with "an evil side" while Kyrgios laughed off the remarks and said Tsitsipas had "serious issues".

"Sometimes as players we go into these press conferences without digesting the match," Kyrgios wrote on Twitter on Saturday. "It was a very heated battle.

"We've had some crazy battles and I know deep down you like my brand of tennis. We are all good."

Kyrgios, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2022 Wimbledon final, withdrew from the warm-up Halle tournament this week due to an ongoing knee issue but said he hoped to play at this year's All England Club championships, which run from July 3-16.