Melbourne: Teenager Nick Kyrgios bowed out of the Australian Open on Tuesday having shown further proof of his prodigious talent but he leaves Melbourne Park with three smashed racquets, code violations and concerns about his on-court histrionics.
The 19-year-old Australian was handed a code violation for an audible obscenity in his 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3 quarter-final loss to Andy Murray and was lucky not to receive another when he smashed his racquet during the second set tiebreak.
A second code violation would have meant a docked point, handing Murray the set, but it went unpunished like a number of transgressions during Kyrgios`s tense five-set win over Andreas Seppi in the previous round.
Though officials were slack, Australian media were less forgiving, criticising the mohawked player for swearing at fans, abusing linesmen and show-boating after outrageous shots.
Murray appeared irked by the Australian at times, and wore a face of thunder when Kyrgios, nicknamed `Wild Thing`, stuck his racquet over the net in a mock attempt to block a smash from the Scot.
The sixth seed was far more magnanimous in victory, however, urging the Rod Laver Arena crowd and Australia, desperate for a new men`s champion but intolerant of `show-offs`, to cut the player some slack.
"I actually think he`s quite respectful on the court in many ways," Murray told reporters.
"Yeah, he gets frustrated with himself and sometimes says things he shouldn`t, but everyone, I would think, has done that in some way when they`re 19.
"It just happens that when he`s doing it he`s playing in front of a large audience and it gets picked up on."
The match against Murray was a wake-up call for Kyrgios, if not for his on-court behaviour, then certainly for the level required to beat the game`s top players.
"They all have their positives. Murray, it`s incredible how many balls he gets back into play," said Kyrgios, who upset Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon last year on the way to the quarter-finals.
"There were points I`d be winning five times over, he`d be making me play an extra ball. Those guys are unbelievable athletes. They`re another level. I think that`s what stands out most."
Kyrgios was asked about Murray`s comments for people to ease off on him. Appearing slightly exasperated, he rubbed his head with his hands and finally said:
"Just listen to Andy, I guess. He`s pretty successful."