Kyrgios hits back over Rio

Tennis star's defiant response to warning of Olympic snub by Australia's chef de mission

SYDNEY • Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Kitty Chiller, all but daring Australia's Olympic team boss to overlook him and team-mate Bernard Tomic for the Rio Games.

Chiller put the tennis pair on notice last week after a raft of behavioural issues on and off the court.

She spoke out in the wake of Tomic facing a match point in Madrid holding his racket the wrong way - which came just days before the world No. 22 withdrew just eight minutes into his opening-round match in Rome.

But, after cruising to an easy first-round win over local wildcard Salvatore Caruso in Rome on Monday, world No. 20 Kyrgios returned serve over a possible Games snub.

"I mean, if you don't want to pick me or Bernard, you know, there are plenty of others you can pick to represent your country as well," said Kyrgios. "If you don't want two of the best players in Australia to represent your country, so be it."

Chiller described Tomic's behaviour as "appalling" after the 23-year-old - when questioned about his match-point antics - said he did not care because he was worth US$10 million (S$13.6 million).

Kyrgios, 21, admitted behaviour would be a factor in the pair's selection, but defended Tomic's actions.

"Yeah, for sure I think, you know, the behaviour has to be monitored going into the Olympics, representing your country," said Kyrgios, who was criticised by Tomic for skipping a Davis Cup match in March because of illness.

"But, you know at the same time I think, with Bernard's case with that match point - I mean, it's not easy playing Fabio (Fognini) on clay. It's Bernard's least preferred surface.

"I'm sure he competed nearly every other point in the match. I don't really know what he was doing, but that one point he gets scorched (although) he probably tried his heart out the rest of the match."

On Monday, Kyrgios beat Caruso 6-1, 6-2 to set up a second-round clash against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who defeated Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

There were also wins for 11th seed Richard Gasquet and Austrian 13th seed Dominic Thiem.

But 14th seed Gael Monfils was beaten 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) by Thomas Bellucci, while seventh seeed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew due to a training injury.

The sudden adductor problem, with less than a fortnight before the French Open, is not good news for the Frenchman, who said he would work to be fit for the tournament.

"I was sick when I left Madrid for two days, and I came here and I tried to play a little bit to see how it goes," he said. "This morning I just stretched a little bit my adductor."

He lost in the Madrid third round to Raonic and played a Monte Carlo semi-final against compatriot Monfils last month.

"This is not good, to be a little bit injured before Roland Garros. I hope I have the chance to recover quick enough," he said.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Kyrgios hits back over Rio'. Print Edition | Subscribe