Damien’s Spin: Plenty of action on the tour

Friday, May 24

The further Nick Kyrgios plummets down the ATP rankings – he’s currently No. 36 in the world – the more perplexing his behaviour becomes.

In Rome earlier this month, the Aussie bad boy took aim at both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Of Nadal, Kyrgios said he was “super salty” and accused the Spaniard of behaving differently after he wins than when he loses.

“He’s my polar opposite, like literally my polar opposite,” said Kyrgios.

Of Djokovic, Kyrgios praised the Serb for his talent and being “one of the greatest,” but then took a shot at Djokovic for being 0-2 all-time against him.

“Like I’m sorry, but if you can’t beat me, you’re not the greatest of all time,” he said.

Krygios suggested Djokovic’s post-match celebrations are “cringeworthy,” and also said he believes Djokovic has a “sick obsession with wanting to be liked.”

“He just wants to be like Roger (Federer),” said Kyrgios.

In the Italian Open, Kyrgios was defaulted early in the third set of his match against Casper Ruud.  The 24-year-old Australian took exception to fans moving about while he was serving, and proceeded to commit a number of violations, including throwing his racquet, kicking a water bottle and throwing a chair on court. Krygios was later fined $30,000, forfeited about $40,000 in prize money and lost 45 ranking points for his behaviour, for which he (sort of) apologized.

“Emotions got the better of me,” he wrote on Instagram. “Just super unfortunate it had to end in a default. Sorry Roma, see you again, maybe.”

Ruud was happy to move on, but called for Kyrgios to be suspended for half a year.

“You can’t behave like that and keep on playing,” said Ruud.

Finally, a few days before the French Open, Kyrgios travelled to London and the All-England Club to hit with Andy Murray as Murray recovers from hip surgery. They played on a green clay court, more appropriate than grass if Kyrgios was actually trying to prepare for Roland Garros, and afterwards Kyrgios praised the All-England club and ripped the Paris tournament.

“The French Open sucks compared to this place. Absolutely sucks,” he said.

Lord knows what Kyrgios will have to say, or what he’ll do, if he falls right out of the top 100.

It looks like there’s a very good chance we’ll see Murray at Wimbledon after all this year, if only on the doubles court.

Murray told The Times of London in May that his rehabilitation from hip surgery has gone better than expected.

“I don’t have pain,” he said. “In doubles, I am pretty certain I am going to be able to play.”

Murray cited American doubles star Bob Bryan, who had similar surgery last year, as one of his inspirations during his comeback effort.

“I can look at Bob Bryan and say, look at what he has done. He is playing top three, top four in the world,” said Murray.

It’s unclear who Murray might pair with, but it’s not expected to be his older brother, Jamie, currently the No. 8 ranked doubles player in the world.

“These are the peak years of my career and if I go to play Wimbledon with someone who hasn’t hit a ball in eight months, I’m kind of giving up one of those years,” said Jamie Murray, who will likely continue to partner with Bruno Soares.

It’s pretty clear that we’re in the final years of Federer’s magnificent career.

Fans would be well-advised to see him play live while they can.

Of course, tournament organizers know that too. So when Federer decided he would play the Rome event this year for the first time since 2016, Italian Open officials increased the prices. Actually, they doubled them, which didn’t please Federer.

“They made it in a way like they rewarded the fans who bought tickets earlier, which is kind of strange,” he said. “I just hope it doesn’t take the fact I’m really happy to be here. There’s going to be good crowds hopefully, good atmosphere.”

The pricing controversy ended up being a bit of a moot point as Federer was forced to withdraw prior to a quarterfinals match with Stefanos Tsitsipas, citing a right leg injury. The injury did not stop Federer from heading to Roland Garros where he is expected to compete at the French Open for the first time in four years.

Photo: Joe Murphy/USTA

A messy national scandal couldn’t hold back these Texas Longhorns.

Despite losing their coach, Michael Center, partway through the season when he was implicated in the college admissions bribery scheme that also ensnared two prominent Hollywood actresses, the Longhorns men’s tennis team persevered and won the NCAA national championship May 19 over defending champion Wake Forest.

The Texas men’s team includes three Canadians, freshman Cleeve Harper and senior Harrison Scott of Calgary, and freshman Chih Chi Huang of Vancouver.

“What a special achievement by the players,” said interim coach Bruce Berque. “I am so proud of them and what they were able to overcome and achieve.”

Center was arrested on March 12 as part of the scandal that included college coaches helping students gain admission to colleges by offering them spots on their teams, even if they played those sports or not. Center was accused of accepting a $100,000 to offer a spot on the Texas tennis team to the son of a wealthy California venture capitalist even though the young man wasn’t proficient enough to play at that level.

Centre pleaded guilty in April and faces 15 to 21 months in prison.

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