Nick Kyrgios-Stefanos Tsitsipas match, Nadal’s victory at Wimbledon

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WIMBLEDON, England — Wimbledon, which has a tradition of nuts getting pushed out from under its elegance, had a crazy Saturday night.

A center court match between Rafael Nadal and Lorenzo Sonego sparked a quick altercation. Before, during and after the entire match on Court No. 1, there was a drawn-out cacophony between Stefanos Tsitsipas, the No. 5 player in the world, and long-time center of attention Nick Kyrgios, who is ranked 40th but has forever proved abbreviated brilliance.

Nadal, the reigning Australian Open and French Open champion, played his scariest match to date here in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 elimination. Still a magnet for attention despite not reaching a Grand Slam quarter-final in seven years, Kyrgios won a thrilling fourth-set tiebreak to advance 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9 -7 ).

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Tennis ended there. A chat came up.

“Yeah, it felt like a circus in a way,” Tsitsipas said of the match.

In the circus, both players broke the code, Tsitsipas hit a cross court ball that almost hit the crowd after losing the second set, Kyrgios clutching the umpire’s chair for not complying with Tsitsipas, Kyrgios holding more, Tsitsipas hitting balls at Kyrgios, Kyrgios clutching more, Tsitsipas played an underhand serve and slammed it against the wall behind the baseline, Kyrgios clutching harder.

Fourth seed Tsitsipas bemoaned the constant booing. “There comes a point where you get really sick of it, let’s say,” he said. “Constant talking, constant complaining. I mean, I’m about to serve and there’s a big gap that tennis isn’t being played, which is the most important thing on the court. We are there to play tennis. We’re not there to have conversations and dialogues with other people, except – especially, not really “except” – when you really know that the referee won’t overturn what he’s decided, you know. It’s really stupid in a way.”

He said: “There is no other player who is constantly upset and frustrated by something. It’s so easy to launch and so fast.”

Tsitsipas blamed himself for the smashed ball near the spectators, although he blamed a little on the way Kyrgios passed to him. “Look, I have to say it was really bad on my part,” he said. “I’ve never done that before, throwing the ball out of bounds that way. I apologized to the people. I don’t know what was going through my head then. … Thank goodness it hit a wall. I will definitely never do it again. It’s my responsibility, sure.”

He praised Kyrgios’s personality and “the good qualities of his character”, but noted “his very bad side”, saying: “He was probably a bully at school himself. I don’t like bullies.”

Regarding the underhand submission response, he said, “I was aiming for the body of my opponent, but I missed by a long, long way.”

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Kyrgios, at the center of the tournament’s chaos in which he spat at an offending fan during the first round, spoke in stages: in an on-court interview with “the utmost respect” for Tsitsipas, and second-to-last respect after hearing some of Tsitsipas’s comments.

“Well, I’d be pretty pissed off if I lost to someone two weeks in a row,” he said and drove off.

“I was just wondering why he was still on the court,” Kyrgios said, “because I know if the roles were reversed I would have been pulled off that court and forfeited.” He called Tsitsipas “soft” for being rattled and suggested that Tsitsipas’ dismay could help explain why he hasn’t made it to the top yet.

“I didn’t hit balls in his face,” Kyrgios said. “I don’t know. I didn’t feel like there was any anger. I didn’t have any anger at Stef today in the game. To be honest, I don’t know where it’s coming from. He was angry because when he hit the ball out [court], was aimed at his box. They obviously had some friction, and when you start losing and losing to me again, you’re obviously angry.’

Nadal, on the other hand, sounded fine, calling Sonego to the net during the third set after complaining to the umpire about the noise Sonego made in the middle of a point. The players had a long chat at the net after the match.

“Well, first of all I have to say I was wrong,” Nadal said. “I probably won’t—I shouldn’t call him over the net. So apologize for that. That’s my fault. No problem. I recognize that. Then all the things during the match that I don’t want to comment on because I talked to him in the dressing room and it stayed there.”

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