Nick Kyrgios defended after locker room fight ‘threat’ with opponents mocked for reaction

Nick Kyrgios rallies during training in Australia

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Nick Kyrgios has received support from two retired pros after accusing the coach of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of “threatening” to fight him in the locker room. The incident came after Kyrgios teamed up with fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis to knock the world No 1 doubles team out of the Australian Open.

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have been defended after accusing Mektic and Pavic’s coach and fitness trainer of threatening to fight them.

The Aussie wildcard pair, dubbed the ‘Special Ks’, beat the top seeds in the second-round of men’s doubles on Friday and later revealed there was a post-match altercation, as Kyrgios tweeted: “Just letting you know after yesterday’s chop fest in doubles my opponents coach and trainer proceeded to threaten to fight in the players gym. Tennis is a soft soft sport @TKokkinakis all because I moved and hit them with a tennis ball”.

Video footage has since been released, showing the good friends and doubles partners in the players’ area, explaining the run-in to their teams.

And retired Australian player Sam Groth, now working on Channel Nine’s host broadcast of the tournament, revealed that Kokkinakis messaged him during the near-fight, saying: “Thanasi actually messaged me as it was happening. He said Nick got accosted in the locker room by Pavic’s fitness trainer.”

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The world No 1 doubles pairing and their team were said to be unhappy with some of Kyrgios’ short balls that appeared to ‘hit’ them, and with the loud crowd who were vocal in their support of the home team.

But they have now been criticised for their reaction, as Australian tennis legends Todd Woodbridge and Mark Philippoussis defended the ‘Special Ks’ and mocked the top seeds.

“In doubles, you’re playing good doubles players with great hands,” two-time Grand Slam champion Philippoussis said, addressing claims that the Croatian team were not happy with the short balls.

“If you get a short ball you’re going straight at the guy at the net. You say sorry, you might not mean it, but you say sorry. That’s the play, you go straight for him, they’ve got a racquet there for a reason – to protect yourself.”

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Speculating why they reacted so boldly, the former world No 8 added: “Maybe the whole disappointment of losing, being the No.1 seed, having a huge year last year, and with the crowd atmosphere being amazing yesterday, I’m sure a lot of things pushed them over the edge.”

Meanwhile, 16-time men’s doubles Grand Slam champion Woodbridge claimed Mektic and Pavic should have been prepared for the crowd’s reaction to a Kyrgios and Kokkinakis match.

He said: “Look, they beat the top team in the world who would have been extremely hacked off that they were in their section of the draw second round, that’s a bad draw for those guys.

“Given Nick’s popularity and the eyeballs that he brings, there was always going to be that [boisterous crowd, histrionics] and you’ve got to be ready for that.

The former world No 1 in doubles, who also won six more Major titles in the mixed, praised Kyrgios for the atmosphere created in his singles and doubles matches this week in Melbourne.

“What I’ve loved about Nick’s matches so far in this tournament is it’s provided an atmosphere like we used to have in Davis Cup, a parochial advantage, and of course you’re going to have that,” he continued.

“If you went to Andy Roddick at Arthur Ashe stadium, you don’t think the New York crowd are going for him in a night match? And you don’t think in Paris when Gael Monfils starts putting on a show at Roland Garros the French crowd are not going to be behind him? That’s what it’s all about.

“So yeah, I can understand exactly how the Croatians felt, but that’s what you have to deal with.”

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