Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge says Nick Kyrgios was ‘baited’ into his explosive interview one day before his Italian Open meltdown.
Speaking on Channel 9 program Sport Sunday, Woodbridge said Kyrgios and tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, who hosts the No Challenges Remaining podcast, have a history of back and forth exchanges on social media.
After going on the podcast and infamously attacking Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Fernando Verdasco, Kyrgios was the next day defaulted from the tournament after a spectacular meltdown.
Woodbridge said Kyrgios was running out of friends in the locker room after his latest stunt.
“There's a journo (Rothenberg) that's been baiting him for two years on Twitter; they've been going back and forth, Nick and the journalist,” Woodbridge said.
“He got a lot of applause; 'Oh, isn't it wonderful that he's so open and telling it how it is'. But he reality is that 50 per cent of the locker room like those blokes; at least, maybe more.
“So, he's ostracised.
“He got baited to do this, he got caught.
“Anybody that was in his team that allowed him to do that should be having a look at themselves, because what they did and what he did was put himself under so much pressure to go out to his next match.”
Kyrgios, who once labelled Rothenberg “the worst writer in tennis”, was roundly criticised for his antics against Casper Ruud, but found an unlikely ally in Roger Federer.
Kyrgios, Nadal feud simmers
Kyrgios poured more fuel on the fire of his rivalry with Rafael Nadal with a sarcastic response to scathing comments from the Spaniard’s camp.
Kyrgios’s latest outburst of unruly behaviour has other players split on whether the temperamental Australian should be handed a long-term ban.
The Australian walked off the court and threw a chair onto the red clay during a fit of rage during his second-round match at the Italian Open on Thursday, leading to him being defaulted and fined.
The latest incident came in for some stinging criticism from Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni Nadal, who claimed the Australian needed to take a hard look at himself.
“I feel bad for him, but something is failing, the ATP has given him too much hype, he plays very well, but with another mentality he would aspire to the maximum, he should make an effort to change,” Nadal said, according to El Espanol.
“It’s hard for him to take the pressure and the difficulty of the competition, he does not do any good in the sport, in the end there is no other option but to put a penalty on him.”
“It is bad for tennis and has entered a dynamic that hurts him, something is failing, it is not normal, I have seen the images and his attitude is quite painful.”
Kyrgios, who has a history of bad blood with Rafael Nadal, following his controversial win against the Spaniard at Acapulco earlier in the year, hit back at the Spaniard’s uncle in a cheeky social media post.
I’ll try and clean my act up 😉 https://t.co/IUHXJ9PrhZ— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) May 17, 2019