Former Australian tennis player Roger Rasheed has expressed his concerns around crowd behaviour when Nick Kyrgios plays in tournaments down under.
The 26-year-old breezed past English foe Liam Broady 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday night in front of a raucous audience at John Cain Arena.
Spectators emulated Manchester United and Portugal footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘siuuu’ celebration, and held up play as the chair umpire pleaded for quiet.
Kyrgios described the arena as a “zoo” after the match, and at one point requested the fans repeat the chant only once per set.
“In Davis Cup ties we see the parochialism of the home country, we acknowledge that and respect that,” Rasheed told SEN.
“This is entertaining to a level, and then I think it crosses a line where it’s not a tennis match anymore because there’s too much going on with all the punters there.
“They feel like they’re going to that match and they have to be involved.
“It’s okay, different eyeballs on tennis, but are they coming to watch any other matches or is it just this?”
Opponent Broady told reporters after the match that he’s glad the experience is in the rear view mirror.
“The way he orchestrates the crowd … you see videos on TV but it doesn’t do it justice,” a disbelieving Broady said.
“When you’re playing in front of an Aussie crowd on Nick Kyrgios’ home court, it’s pretty crazy out there. I’m glad to have got it out the way.
“Everyone was telling me ‘you’ll really enjoy it, it’s going to be amazing’ but I thought it was absolutely awful.”
The world No. 128 said it was the first time he has ever walked onto a tennis court to boos.
“It was a crazy experience… you get sledging from the sides like you can’t believe that they don’t pick up on TV,” he continued.
“So it’s a very difficult atmosphere to try and handle, he’s incredible at getting them behind him and he plays better for it.
“I think that’s very rare, especially in the sport of tennis. People don’t really interact with the crowd like he does.”
Kyrgios again flashed the rare talent he first announced to the world at Wimbledon in 2014, ahead of a second-round match-up with World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.
The Canberran pulled off a tweener serve in his first service game, dominated on his own serve and broke Broady in the first game of the first two sets.
It has renewed discussion around Kyrgios’ wavering application to the demands of a professional tennis career.
“I can’t invest in him like I invest in the other Australians,” The First Serve host Brett Phillips added.
“Of course I want all the Australians to do well, but it’s more frustration than anything to me because of what he could be.
“If you don’t want to be that, that’s okay, and I’ve resigned myself to that.”
Rasheed, who has coached former top six players in Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Grigor Dimitrov, doesn’t doubt Kyrgios has the talent to take out Grand Slams.
“There’s always conversations like ‘he could do this, he could win a major’ from a lot of scribes, I think you just have to leave that alone,” Rasheed added.
“Inside him, no doubt there’s this really competitive guy that wants to be that player … but I’m not sure (even) he knows if he really wants it.
“All we do know is if he gets through this match, the next match is dangerous for Medvedev. That’s what he brings to the court.
“It wouldn’t surprise you if he played this lights-out tennis match, if he can do it in three sets and be ahead.
“Can he go all the way, the distance? Yeah, he probably can. Because of his serve.”
Kyrgios will take on the Russian, who broke through for his first Grand Slam title at the US Open last year, on Thursday with the time and venue yet to be announced.