By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios said a coach and trainer of world number one doubles pair Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic had threatened to fight after their doubles match at the Australian Open on Friday.
Kyrgios and compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis upset Mektic and Pavic in straight sets in the second round at Kia Arena, with the raucous crowd getting on the Croatian pair’s nerves.
Kyrgios said on Saturday that the ill will had spilled over into the players’ gym after the match.
“Just letting you know after yesterday’s chop fest in doubles my opponents coach and trainer proceeded to threaten to fight in the players gym,” Kyrgios tweeted.
“Tennis is a soft soft sport. @TKokkinakis all because I moved and hit them with a tennis ball.”
Kokkinakis responded to Kyrgios: “That was crazy!! Mans thought it was @ufc.”
Mektic did not respond to an emailed request for comment. Reuters has requested comment from Pavic.
Australian former player and commentator Sam Groth said during broadcaster Nine Network’s Australian Open coverage that Kokkinakis had sent him a text during the altercation.
“Thanasi actually messaged me as it was happening and said Nick got accosted in the locker room by Pavic’s fitness trainer,” Groth said.
“Obviously weren’t very happy, the number one team in the world, number one seeds going down against Thanasi and Nick.
“Didn’t accept what the crowd was doing, what was happening with Nick.
“I think it’s just a little bit soft to take it off the court, into the locker room and not even from the players, from someone from the team.”
A video posted by the Nine Network showed Kyrgios and Kokkinakis having an animated exchange with the Croatian pair and their entourage in a players area at Melbourne Park.
Fans’ behaviour at the tournament has riled a slew of players this year, including U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who criticised sections of the crowd following his singles win over Kyrgios on Thursday.
Pavic said some home fans were disrespectful.
“Obviously they cheer for Aussies. It wouldn’t hurt them to show some respect to all opponents, to other players,” he told reporters on Friday.
“We saw yesterday also with Medvedev how it was. That’s how they are here. We’re used to that.
“But like I said, it wouldn’t hurt them to show some respect.”
Mektic said of the defeat: “They’re a nasty team to beat here and that’s it. We just fell short.”
(Additional reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Jacqueline Wong/)