Kyrgios hits back after another Nadal jab
NICK Kyrgios has come under fire from Rafael Nadal's camp again with the dust still settling on his dramatic default ejection from the Italian Open.
Kyrgios has been swiped by Nadal's uncle and former mentor Toni Nadal following the Australian star's explosive digs at the Spanish champion and world No.1 Novak Djokovic on a tennis podcast earlier this week.
It is just the latest in a heated, public war of words between Nadal and Kyrgios since the 24-year-old defeat of Nadal at the Mexico Open.
Kyrgios has raised the level of tension again with a social media post that many have interpreted as a dig at Nadal.
The Australian's post was in direct response to Nadal's uncle suggestion to a Spanish news outlet that Kyrgios was "not good for the sport" as he called on the ATP Tour to take further action against the controversial star.
"I feel bad for him, but something is failing, Toni Nadal said, according to El Espanol.
"The ATP has given him too much hype. He plays very well, but with another mentality he would aspire to the maximum. He should make an effort to change.
"It's hard for him to take the pressure and the difficulty of the competition. He does not do any good in the sport. In the end there is no other option but to put a penalty on him.
"It is bad for tennis and has entered a dynamic that hurts him. Something is failing - it is not normal. I have seen the images and his attitude is quite painful."
Kyrgios responded when he was alerted to Toni Nadal's dig on social media, hitting back with a statement that he would "try and clean up my act".
Kyrgios earlier this year posted on Instagram that he could "smell the blood when I play this dude (Rafael Nadal)" as a caption for a video of the pair's frosty handshake in Acapulco.
The post also featured a series of emojis, including a syringe.
Just like Kyrgios's previous post in March, many have interpreted his latest post as a reference to the 211 bags of blood WADA is in possession of following a police seizure operation.
The Operation Puerto doping scandal is still yet to be concluded - almost 13 years after police launched an investigation into an alleged doping network in Spain.
Nadal has previously strongly denied claims linking him to the doping plot and there is no suggestion he has done anything untoward.
On Saturday morning, Kyrgios also laughed off swirling discussions on social media surrounding a manual labour punishment as being the answer to get the Australian back into line on the tennis court.
It came as the ATP Tour reportedly decided it would not take any further action against Kyrgios for his Rome outburst.
His opponent, Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, said the disqualification and fines were not enough as he led the calls for Kyrgios to be banned for six months or longer.
Roger Federer, though, thinks Kyrgios has already been given an appropriate punishment - he forfeited his 45 ATP rankings points earned at the tournament, was fined $32,000 for unsportsmanlike behaviour and sacrificed his $55,000 in prize money.
He must also cover the cost of his hospitality during the tournament, the ATP said.
Kyrgios was already suspended by the ATP Tour in 2016 for "tanking" a match and insulting fans during a loss at the Shanghai Masters.
His latest exchange with Nadal's camp comesafter Kyrgios earlier this week accused Nadal of hypocrisy on the No Challenges Remaining Podcast with New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg.
"He's my polar opposite, like literally my polar opposite. And he's super salty," Kyrgios said.
"When he wins, it's fine. He won't say anything bad, he'll credit the opponent, 'He was a great player.' But as soon as I beat him, it's just like, 'He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game.' And I'm like, 'What are you talking about? I literally played this way when I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed, nothing changed.'
"It's not a good look for you, I feel. And then (Nadal's former coach) Uncle Toni came out saying, 'He lacks education.' I'm like, 'Bra, I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I'm very educated. I understand that you're upset I beat your family again.' Rafa gets me vexed."
After he was eliminated in Mexico, Nadal famously said Kyrgios "lacks respect".
Kyrgios sensationally attempted an underarm serve during the match because Nadal had retreated miles behind the baseline to return Kyrgios's booming serves.
The pair also clashed over a time-wasting accusation in the tense third-set tiebreak when Kyrgios complained to the chair umpire because of Nadal's attempt to slow down and disrupt the natural service rhythm of his opponent.
Nadal then proceeded to declare Kyrgios "lacks respect" for his opponent, himself and the crowd in his post-match press conference.
Kyrgios responded by saying he wouldn't be listening to Nadal's criticism, and Nadal "doesn't know anything about me".
They've been bickering in public ever since.