Kyrgios defends Tomic, unperturbed by Games warning

Mon May 9, 2016 10:52pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Nick Kyrgios has defended compatriot Bernard Tomic against allegations of failing to try during a match and said it was up to the Australian Olympic Committee whether the pair were picked to represent the country at the Rio Olympics.

The 21-year-old and Tomic were warned by Australia's Olympic chef de mission Kitty Chiller at the weekend that they were among a group of athletes whose behavior was being monitored to judge their suitability for the Rio team.

"If you don't want to pick me or Bernard, there are plenty of others you can pick to represent your country as well," Kyrgios told reporters after winning his opening match at the Italian Open in Rome on Monday.

"If you don't want two of the best players in Australia to represent your country, so be it."

Kyrgios, Australia's highest ranked player at number 20 in the world, combines a rare tennis talent with a reputation for firing insults at fellow players, officials and fans.

It is Tomic, however, who has been most under fire in Australia in recent weeks, continuing an unhappy relationship with the local media that goes back several years.

The world number 22 was lambasted last week for holding his racket by the strings and not offering a shot when facing match point against Fabio Fognini at the Madrid Open.

Tomic's response -- "Would you care if you were 23 and worth over $10 million?" -- was described as "appalling" by Chiller and the criticism intensified when he pulled out of his opening match in Rome after just eight minutes, citing illness.

Kyrgios, who was criticized by Tomic for skipping a Davis Cup match in March because of illness, defended his fellow young gun against the charges that he had "tanked" the match.   Continued...

Tennis - Madrid Open - Nick Kyrgios of Australia v Kei Nishikori of Japan- Madrid, Spain - 6/5/16 Kyrgios returns the ball. REUTERS/Susana Vera