Nick Kyrgios has fired back at members of the media who claimed he downplayed the success of Australian Open Women’s Singles Champion Ashleigh Barty.
Kyrgios won his maiden Grand Slam doubles title in Melbourne with fellow Aussie and long-time friend Thanasi Kokkinakis, with the pair drawing unprecedented attention towards the doubles game in the process.
Both Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are renowned as being strong personalities and their energy on court helped create buzzed up crowds throughout the tournament.
During the competition, Kyrgios stressed to reporters that tennis needed to celebrate players with big personalities more.
And after winning his maiden Slam against compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell, the 26-year-old expressed his satisfaction at the atmosphere he and Kokkinakis had managed to create.
“I would say that we’ve created probably the best atmosphere this tournament has ever seen,” he said.
“Ash’s father came to us and said the crowd was the best he’s ever seen. Obviously, Ash is a hell of a player, but I think the ratings speak for themselves.
“People watch my matches, everywhere I play around the world the stadiums are full for that reason.”
However, Kyrgios’ comments were condemned by many, including sports personality Kelli Underwood, who claimed the remark was “extremely disrespectful” and “tone-deaf.”
Barty became the first Australian winner of a singles title in Melbourne since 1978 as she stormed to victory against Danielle Collins last Saturday.
The 25-year-old won the tournament without dropping a set to secure her third major victory and solidify her spot at the top of the world rankings.
Contrary to what Kyrgios suggested, Australian broadcaster Channel Nine reported that Barty’s final had a peak audience of 4.2 million, while the men’s doubles peaked at 3.15 million.
Kyrgios has now addressed the criticism surrounding his comments and published an angry response on his Instagram story.
The former world number 13 wrote: “F*** you media. Honestly, I said nothing disrespectful to @ashbarty — I said that the crowd this year was amazing and I feel as if (Kokkinakis) and I were a big part of that. Ash’s father came to me and even said that.
“All I said was that when people watch me around the world the stadiums are full, I grew up with Ash and always knew her potential.”
Aside from this post, Kyrgios also took the chance to respond to an article published by news.com.au, that suggested he was ‘boasting’ about generating more viewing figures than Barty.
“They wanted us to win more than Purcell and Ebden,” he wrote on Twitter. “YOU ABSOLUTE DONUTS. NOTHING TO DO WITH ASH BARTY – MY GOD THE MEDIA ARE PEANUTS.”
One thing that’s for sure is that Australian tennis is seemingly going from strength to strength right now.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are yet to confirm if they’ll partner in the doubles at other Slams this year, while Barty will almost certainly compete in the singles at Roland-Garros this May, as she bids to win back-to-back major titles for the first time.