SYDNEY (Reuters) - If tennis player Nick Kyrgios has been chastened by a warning about his future behavior from Australia’s chef de mission for the Rio Olympics, he is not showing it.
Kyrgios and his fellow Australian young gun Bernard Tomic were told by chef de mission Kitty Chiller on Saturday that their behavior must improve if they wanted to represent their country at the Rio Olympics.
The talented and hugely confident Kyrgios hit back with some cheeky humor from the Madrid Open, where he hit a stunning lob between his legs on his way to defeat at the hands of Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.
“Someone tell that Kitty chiller to watch that tweener lob, then she will understand why I‘m on watch for the olympics lol,” he posted on Twitter.
Kyrgios, Australia’s highest ranked player at number 21 in the world, combines a rare tennis talent with a reputation for firing insults at fellow players, officials and fans.
It was Tomic who was courting controversy this week, however, after bowing out of the Madrid Open by holding his racket by the strings and not offering a shot when facing match point against Fabio Fognini.
The 23-year-old, nicknamed ‘Tomic the Tank Engine’ after accusations he ‘tanked’ -- or failed to try his best -- in a loss to Andy Roddick at the 2012 U.S. Open, then told reporters: “Would you care if you were 23 and worth over $10 million?”.
Chiller told reporters at the Australian Olympic Committee’s AGM on Saturday that she thought his behavior “appalling”.
“It goes against every value that all the Olympians live by, it goes against everything that we’ve been trying to build in this team,” she said.
“It is not behavior that I would want any team member in a team that I‘m responsible for to exhibit.”
Tennis Australia nominates athletes for Olympic selection and Kyrgios and 22nd-ranked Tomic are likely to head their picks for the Aug. 5-21 Olympics in Rio.
The Australian Olympic Committee must approve the nominations, however, and Chiller said that behavior in the public arena would be taken into account.
“We have the ability to take that into consideration whether we proceed to select the nomination or not,” Chiller added.
In Tomic’s case the point may be moot with the Australian newspaper reporting that the 23-year-old had signed up to play in a tournament in Los Cabos, Mexico that takes place at the same time as the Olympics.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty