Nick Kyrgios defended for ‘over the top’ antics ahead of Australian Open final

Nick Kyrgios rallies during training in Australia

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Nick Kyrgios has been defended over his on-court antics, which have seen him come in the firing line of his recent opponents. The 26-year-old will contest his maiden Grand Slam final in the Australian Open doubles alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis on Saturday.

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have been lighting up the doubles court the past week, ousting a number of top-seeded pairs to reach a maiden Grand Slam final.

The home favourites have been getting the crowd on side every match, with their supporters often vocal and rowdy, and things are expected to be no different in Saturday’s all-Aussie Australian Open men’s doubles final, when they take on Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell.

World No 1 duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic were favourites for the men’s doubles title but crashed out in the second round, with the Aussie wildcard duo defeating them in straight sets.

And the Croatian pair weren’t happy with their opponents or the crowd, with Pavic’s fitness trainer “threatening to fight” Kyrgios and Kokkinakis in the locker room after the match.

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But the compatriots and long-time friends have continued to bring the entertainment and feed off the crowds, then going on a tear to beat the 15th, sixth and third seeds en route to the final.

Michael Venus, who was part of the losing team during the Aussies’ quarter-final win, was another player unhappy with their on-court antics, later branding Kyrgios an “absolute k**b”.

“The amount of messages I got from people, an extreme amount, way, way more than I’ve ever had but then a lot of messages from people saying how embarrassed they were with the crowd’s behaviour and they’re sorry, it shouldn’t have been like that,” the Kiwi said after the match.

“They’ll always be his supporters and he’ll spin it in a way that helps him but at the end of the day he’s an absolute k**b.

“On the maturity side, you see why he’s never fulfilled his potential and probably never will. His maturity level, it’s probably being generous to about a 10-year-old, it’s at about that level.”

But Australian tennis legend Sam Groth has now defended Kyrgios and Kokkinakis ahead of their final, slamming the 34-year-old doubles player for his remarks.

The retired two-time doubles title winner, who now works for Australian Open host broadcaster Channel 9, credited the wildcards for drawing new attention to the sport.

“Some of the antics were probably a little bit over the top, but this is an entertainment product,” he said.

“We are producing it for the fans that come into the stands, and we’re producing it for television and getting eyeballs on the screen that wouldn’t normally be watching.”

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Groth also claimed Venus was “bitter” after his loss to the team dubbed the Special Ks, criticising his decision to go after Kyrgios.

He continued: “He’s not doing it from here in Melbourne Park because he lost in the tournament. Throw barbs, but you’re out of the tournament bud. Sorry Michael, I like you a lot, but there’s a time and place.

“I get it, the crowd’s rowdy, Nick’s rowdy, but you were giving it back, you were part of it, you were in that battle.

“I’m not convinced it was the right way to go. I have known Michael for a long, long time. He is understandably a little bit bitter about the way things went down. It’s a different crowd.”

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