London: Nick Kyrgios insisted he won't drop his brash attitude after the volatile Australian's latest outburst during his Wimbledon first round rout of Argentina's Diego Schwartzman on Monday.
Kyrgios was back at Wimbledon 12 months after he stunned Rafael Nadal in a memorable fourth round upset on Centre Court that made him the lowest ranked player to beat a world number one at a Grand Slam for 22 years. On his return, the 20-year-old, who eventually bowed out in the quarter-finals last year, crushed Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) in just 85 minutes to set up a second round meeting with Germany's Florian Mayer or Argentina's Juan Monaco.
But Kyrgios's victory was marred by a heated discussion with the umpire over a line call that included the Australian shouting out 'dirty scum'. Kyrgios was adamant he was directing the abuse at himself, but the unsavoury incident only added to the perception that the world number 29, already renowned for his flamboyant style on and off court, is developing into the sport's bad boy.
And Canberra-born Kyrgios, who split with long-time coach Todd Larkham just before Wimbledon, was hardly repentant when quizzed about his outburst at his post-match press conference. "I wasn't referring to the ref at all there. Yeah, it was towards myself. Obviously I knew you guys were going to ask me about that," he said. "I'm not too fussed about the call to be honest, but if it was a more crucial time in the match, or deeper in the tournament, that could swing things.
"It shouldn't be something that can be taken lightly. You've got to make the right call there. "It wouldn't bother me one bit if they fine me." Pressed by reporters on why he would describe himself in such negative fashion, Kyrgios grew agitated, saying: "Because I can. Why are you so caught up about the question?"
Kyrgios captured the imagination during his run to the Australian Open quarter-finals in January, but his moody demeanour also earned plenty of attention. He shouted at one spectator to "get off your fucking phone", while berating some others for sneaking out halfway through his fourth round match. He also recently made headlines by expressing his disdain for abstaining from sex before matches.
But, asked if felt it was time to tone down his antics, to avoid an unwanted reputation, he made it clear he was going to remain true to his boisterous personality. "I play the sport the way I play it. I'm not going to change, you know," he said. "I think the sport needs characters. I feel like it's good when you see someone that's raw, just plays the game the way they play it."
It is little surprise Kyrgios carries himself with such swagger given he admits to admiring NBA star LeBron James. Kyrgios is a huge admirer of the way Cleveland Cavaliers ace James carries himself with an almost arrogant style. "I think LeBron is, hands down, the best player in the world. I think any person looks up to him," Kyrgios said. "He's got great confidence.
He works really hard. He doesn't care what people think about him. But I'm not trying to be anyone else. I'm just myself." Thanasi Kokkinakis, the 19-year-old Australian tipped as a future star by Andy Murray, won't be joining Kyrgios in the second round. The world number 71, making his Wimbledon debut, was beaten 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 by Argentine 24th seed Leonardo Mayer. Kokkinakis had been struggling with illness and revealed he had vomited during the match.
"There was a couple long rallies where I threw up a little bit in my mouth," he said. "I got sick, I don't know what it was. Still finding out what antibiotics I'm about to take now."