Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fellow Aussies: Kyrgios, Tomic will learn from mistakes

Nick Kyrgios, playing in the 2013 Sacra-
mento Challenger, was fined $10,000 for
insulting Stan Wawrinka last week.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Australia has built a sterling tennis reputation, symbolized by gentlemanly legend Rod Laver, over the past century.
   Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic, though, have tarnished that image with their recent antics.
   "I'd like to say they haven't, but I'd probably be lying seeing as how it's all over the news worldwide," Australian veteran Matthew Ebden said Sunday at the $100,000 Comerica Bank Challenger in Aptos, where he reached the singles quarterfinals and doubles final. "I've seen a bunch of comments -- people in Australia and around the world are not happy.
   "I don't think the reaction is good at all. I think even Novak (Djokovic) and Rafa (Nadal), some of our coaches and (Tennis Australia performance director Patrick) Rafter have had a go with both of them a lot."
   Added Australian John Millman, who became the first No. 1 seed in the 28-year history of the Aptos Challenger to win the singles title: "Australia does have a proud history in tennis, and we've got some great role models to look up to. I don't wish to make excuses on anyone. We can all strive to be better.
   "Nick and Bernie are both extremely young guys. They will learn, they're going to get older, and they're going to have experiences. It probably won't be the last time controversy strikes, but hopefully they keep maturing into people that (others) can look up to."
   The ATP fined the 20-year-old Kyrgios $10,000 for insulting Stan Wawrinka during their second-round match in Montreal last week. A courtside microphone picked up Kyrgios saying that fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis had slept with Donna Vekic, a 19-year-old Croatian player who reportedly is Wawrinka's girlfriend. Kyrgios later apologized on his Facebook page.
   "In this day and age with social media and all the microphones on the court," said the 26-year-old Millman, who has impeccable character, "you have to be really careful with the things you're saying out there. It's probably not the best to get personal.
   "Being an Australian, it's tough to chastise (Kyrgios). He has Lleyton Hewitt working with him now. Lleyton was involved in a little bit of controversy early on, but what a role model (Kyrgios) has to work with."
   In the second round of the 2001 U.S. Open, Hewitt implied to Swiss umpire Andreas Egli that a black linesman was biased toward opponent James Blake. Hewitt, then 20, went on to win the title and become the youngest player to rank No. 1 in the world. He had other less-publicized run-ins with officials and fans early in his career.
   Now 34, Hewitt plans to retire after his 20th Australian Open in January.
   Kyrgios, a semifinalist in the 2013 Sacramento Challenger, also was fined almost $10,000 last month at Wimbledon for swearing loudly and violently abusing his rackets. In addition, he was accused of tanking in his fourth-round loss to Richard Gasquet.
   "There have been quite a lot of incidents, obviously," conceded the 27-year-old Ebden, a stand-up guy. "I'm pretty friendly with Nick. I have no problem with him personally. We get on fine. He's young, there are pressures, there's stuff going on.
  "This time, I read some comments that some people said he crossed the line, and he probably did. He probably knows that himself, and that's why he apologized. It's going to be interesting for him to see how he can get through that. Hopefully, he can learn from it."
Bernard Tomic, shown at Indian Wells in March, was charged
with resisting arrest and trespassing in Miami Beach, Fla., last
month after being suspended from Australia's Davis Cup quar-
terfinal. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Tomic, 22, was suspended from last month's Davis Cup quarterfinal against Kazakhstan in Darwin, Australia, for criticizing Rafter. During the competition, Tomic was charged with resisting arrest and trespassing in Miami Beach, Fla. That prompted Rafter to tell Australian media that Tomic had hit "rock bottom."
   In 2013, Tomic had his driver's license taken away for speeding on the Gold Coast near Brisbane, Australia. A year earlier, he was investigated after an alleged brawl in a Gold Coast apartment spa.
   Tomic's father and coach, John Tomic, received an eight-month suspended sentence and banned from the ATP World Tour for a year in September 2013 for assaulting Bernard's former hitting partner, Thomas Drouet.
   "Obviously, Bernie has been through a lot of things himself," said Ebden, and the 2013 Australian Open mixed doubles champion with Jarmila Gajdosova, a Slovakian-born Australian who played for the Sacrament-based California Dream in World TeamTennis last month. "I'm good friends with him. I tell him to his face (that) he's done some silly things. He's done some smart things, too. It's been a slow learning process for him."
   Ebden said the behavior of Kyrgios and Tomic "is definitely a bit of a problem, but with every problem, there's opportunity. It'll be interesting to see in the next year or two if they can mature. I'm sure they will. No one is stupid. They're not thick, totally stupid. Sooner or later they're going to mature as they get older and go through experiences.
   "It's not pretty. (Kyrgios) can't be enjoying all the stuff he's having to deal with. I know he likes the attention. He got a lot of attention for it -- they both did, but all the negativity that comes with it probably is not what they want. I'm sure they can find the right way to deal with it. We all have made mistakes. We all try to grow and mature and try to enjoy our tennis journey."
   The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Kyrgios and the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Tomic already have three Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances between them.
   Millman said of Kyrgios: "We've seen at the (2015) Australian Open and (last year at) Wimbledon where he's made the quarterfinals that he can really mix it with these best guys. Hopefully, he can let his racket do the talking."

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