ROME: Nick Kyrgios has hit back amid threats his behavior and on-court demeanor could cost him a place in the Australian squad for the Rio Olympics.
The 20-year-old, who has been put on probation by national officials, has called Australia’s Olympic team chief’s bluff over threats not to pick him and fellow tennis bad boy Bernard Tomic for the Rio Games.
But Kyrgios warned: “If you don’t want two of the best players in Australia to represent your country, so be it.
“If you don’t want to pick me or Bernard [for the Olympics]there are plenty of others you can pick to represent your country, as well.”
His remarks at the Rome Masters came in the wake of a stern warning from Australian Olympic Committee boss Kitty Chiller that he and Tomic are being watched for any disciplinary problems on the ATP circuit which might exclude them.
The pair has bad boy reputations on the ATP, with Kyrgios seeming to be making the most efforts to improve his behavior.
The national number one is facing Milos Raonic in the second round in Rome, while Tomic is already out.
Tomic’s stock is dropping fast as his reputation for failing to give his best effort on court continues.
His latest episode — quitting after 20 minutes in the Rome first round against Italian number one Fabio Fognini claiming illness.
“It’s not easy playing Fabio on clay,” Kyrgios said in defense of Tomic. “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 for when he probably tried his heart out the rest of the match.”
Kyrgios, who is working on improving his behavior with the Rio Games approaching, added: “Your behavior has to be monitored going into the Olympics, representing your country.”