Great Britain

Nick Kyrgios brands umpire ‘stupid’ in furious row over handing bloodied towel to ballboy as he sets up Nadal clash

NICK KYRGIOS called the chair umpire “stupid” after cutting his hand in a spectacular Australian Open victory.

The Australian played the longest match of his life – despite having a two-set lead and wasting two match points – as he beat Russian Karen Khachanov in the third round on the Melbourne Arena.

The 24-year-old won 6-2 7-6 6-7 6-7 7-6 and has now set-up a Grudge Match reunion with nemesis Rafael Nadal on Monday.

In the fourth set, Kyrgios fell to the floor and cut himself badly on his right hand with blood dripping on the court.

Using his towel to stem the blood between serves, Kyrgios refused to give it back to the ball boy for hygiene reasons.

But because he took his time serving, the umpire Renaud Lichtenstein gave a time violation – and this only angered the Aussie.

He screamed at the official: “There’s blood all over the towel. I told the ball kid not to touch it.

“Are you stupid? Can you not see? I didn’t want to give him the towel.”

It was a typical entertaining, all-action match from Kyrgios, which included trick shots, failed tweeners, failed under-arm serves, cheeky drop-shots, ranting and raving, three tiebreaks, injury timeouts and an impromptu header!

He looked like he might throw this match away but to the delight of the home crowd he has secured a blockbuster rematch with the world No1.

Kyrgios said: “Man, it was crazy. That was insane. This is epic. I don't know what is going on.

"Honestly my legs feel about 40kgs each. I was losing it mentally it a bit. But the support team got me over the line. I thought I would lose.

"Nadal has a winning record against me, too. What happens between us, he is amazing. Arguably the greatest of all time.

“I am thinking of my legs, ice bath, food. He’s a champion. Hopefully I can give everything and it can be enough.”

Kyrgios and Nadal have plenty of bad blood, including a provocative podcast rant in which the two-time Wimbledon champion was labelled “super-salty”.

And the No23 seed also angered Nadal when he beat him in Acapulco last year, even attempting a cheeky under-arm serve.

The world No1 has now told Kyrgios to cut out the bad-boy antics and behave.

He said: “It’s clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don’t like it.

“When he plays good tennis and he shows passion for this game, he is a positive player for our tour, and I want my tour bigger, not smaller.

“So the players who make the tour bigger are important for the tour. When he’s ready to play his best tennis and play with passion, he is one of these guys. When he’s doing the other stuff, of course I don’t like."

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