LONDON (Reuters) - To the disappointment of those bemoaning a lack of “characters” at Wimbledon, Nick Kyrgios was beaten in four sets by Richard Gasquet on Monday, bowing out of the tournament with his usual mix of brilliance and belligerence.
The 20-year-old Australian’s on-court behavior often resembles that of a hormonal teenager and he threw in the full range on Monday with a “tanked” game, a warning for an audible obscenity and a seemingly endless running debate with the umpire.
None of it could put off Gasquet, however, who triumphed 7-5 6-1 6-7(7) 7-6(6) to take full revenge for losing to Kyrgios a year ago when the Frenchman managed to blow a record-equaling nine match points.
This time Gasquet was content to be the Bjorn Borg to Kyrgios’s John McEnroe, losing his ice-cool demeanor only briefly when he smashed a racket after losing the third set tiebreak.
Generally, it was Kyrgios keeping up a rolling feud with the officials, himself, the crowd and anyone else he could blame whenever he failed to win a point.
Having lost the first set and then being broken to trail 2-0 in the second, he was booed after sulking his way through the third game, sometimes not even making a token attempt to return Gasquet’s serve.
Kyrgios later denied “tanking” the game during a long and tortuous exchange in a news conference.
“No, of course I tried... I did move,” he said
”Do you want to try to return Richard Gasquet’s serve? I’ll give you the racket and we’ll see how many times you can return his serve.
“You know, I‘m not perfect out there. I‘m going to have ups and downs. I think it takes some serious balls to respond the way I did.”
True enough, as he fought back he had the Number Two court crowd eating out of his hands as he hugged a ball boy and chatted and laughed with fans.
The big Australian certainly offers entertainment and makes the crowd feel a part of the event -- something of a rarity in a modern game often criticized for its anodyne stars.
But amid his power, invention and chat, there are still too many errors and poor shot choices -- a combination that is usually found out in the second week of a grand slam.
Gasquet bided his time and eventually ground down his rival with a succession of silky backhands that had Kyrgios appealing to the skies to explain how such a thing could happen.
But even the winner had a kind word for his victim.
“He likes the show, of course, everybody can see that,” the Frenchman said.
“But I still think it’s good to have some players like that on the circuit. Sometimes people are saying the players are boring or something. Now we have someone who is doing different things and I think that’s is good for us.”
Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris