Montreal: Nick Kyrgios looked to have turned over a new leaf in recent weeks, his playful banter with fans and improved focus helping him produce some of his best tennis, but his dark side returned in Montreal on Tuesday thanks to a row over a white towel.
The volatile Australian, who won the Citi Open in Washington on Sunday, was dumped out of the opening round of the Rogers Cup by Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-3 6-4 after an angry exchange with the umpire saw him collect a code violation for an obscenity.
Kyrgios had asked the umpire before the match if he could be given a white towel instead of the tournament’s branded one and the 24-year-old threw a tantrum when he realised five games into the match his request had not been met.
“I’m not allowed to leave the chair,” the umpire said after the angry Australian had asked him to get the towel.
“You’re telling me that you can’t radio in just for one white towel?” a seething Kyrgios replied.
A ball boy finally handed Kyrgios a white towel, but it did little to help the Australian’s cause with Edmund putting on a serving masterclass to advance.
Kyrgios’ outburst comes after the Australian seemed to be reinventing himself as a crowd favourite in the weeks following his Wimbledon defeat by Rafa Nadal.
The superb tennis Kyrgios played in that match won him new admirers and the Australian has fed off the crowd at subsequent tournaments, sharing jokes with fans and even asking them where he should serve.
Meanwhile, world number one Ashleigh Barty crashed out of the WTA tournament in Toronto on Tuesday, falling in three sets in her second-round opener to 29th-ranked American Sofia Kenin.
Australia’s Barty, the French Open champion who was competing for the first time since a fourth-round exit at Wimbledon, battled back from an early break to take the opening set, but she was unable to do the same in the next two sets as 20-year-old Kenin triumphed 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-4.
“It just wasn’t there today,” Barty admitted. “At times I was missing by big margins, which is not something that I’m very used to or comfortable with.”
The defeat puts Barty’s number one ranking in jeopardy, with both Japan’s Naomi Osaka and Czech Karolina Pliskova eyeing the top spot.
Osaka is the front-runner to return to the summit, but Pliskova could have a chance if she makes the semi-finals.
“I couldn’t tell from you a bar of soap what’s going on with the rankings,” Barty said. “It’s not something that I worry about or focus on. Regardless of whether it’s number 10, it’s number 50, 200 or it’s number one, it’s just a number next to your name.”