Nick Kyrgios’ showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas is the most hyped match of the first week at Wimbledon — but not in the eyes of tournament officials.
The All England Club on Saturday morning stunned tennis commentators in announcing the match won’t be played on the venue’s famous Center Court.
There is speculation from some tennis reporters that Kyrgios’ behavior — headlined by an ugly spitting incident in his first round win — is the reason the blockbuster has been relegated to Court No. 1.
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The the scheduling of Kyrgios matches has already raised eyebrows this week with his opening two rounds being played on Court No. 2 and Court. Well 3.
Now officials have done it again by putting the third round match as the final match on Court No. 1, scheduled to begin around 1am (AEST) on Sunday morning.
The matches scheduled for Center Court on Day 6 are No. 11 seed Coco Gauff vs No. 20 seed Amanda Anisimova, No. 4 seed Paul Bados vs No. 25 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal vs No. 27 seed Lorenzo Sonego.
There was widespread agreement that the action on Court No. 1 looks much more exciting on paper.
The Times‘ tennis correspondent Stuart Fraser wrote on Twitter: “Disbelief here at tomorrow’s schedule. Wonder if the previous behavior of Kyrgios had an impact on this particular choice”.
Sky Sports journalist Michael Hincks wrote: “Winner winner for anyone with No 1 Court tickets Saturday – a British hopeful, a world No 1, and the best match of the day in Kyrgios-Tsitsipas”.
Kyrgios on Friday copped a heavy fine for spitting towards spectators and then withdrawn from the doubles draw where he was supposed to play alongside good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.
It was revealed on Friday morning that Kyrgios has been fined $AUD14,400 for the vile act.
Fourteen players were included on the fines list released by Wimbledon today, but Kyrgios’ punishment was by far the harshest.
Kyrgios was in no mood to repent for his first round antics after clocking up another victory on Thursday night to march into the third round.
Asked after him straight sets win over Filip Krajinovic if he regretted his actions at the All England Club, Kyrgios left no one in any doubt about where he stood.
“Why would you be asking me a question about two days ago? Is it because you have no story for today?” he said.
“I just feel like I’m comfortable in my own skin. Some people love to just tear me down. It’s just not possible anymore.
“I just want to give people who watch this press conference or watch my tennis to just believe in yourself, be yourself, don’t be someone else up here either. Don’t just say what you’ve been told to say.
“I couldn’t care less if there is an investigation about me doing that (spitting), to be brutally honest with you. I know what I bring to the sport.
“I’m one of the most important people in the sport. Do you want to talk about that? Nothing to investigate there because it’s just factual.”
Kyrgios won the Australian Open doubles title alongside Kokkinakis but flagged after defeating Krajinovic his singles charge might have to take priority at Wimbledon this year.
It was soon confirmed that the “Special Ks” would not be stepping onto the court together at the All England Club.
“I’m a singles player. My priority has always been singles,” Kyrgios said on Friday. “I’ve made quarter-finals here before, I’ve won singles titles.
“I played nearly four hours in my first round. Me personally, it was just too much time on court.
“Today, I made up for that. But I want to put my singles as my priority. I’m doing what’s best for my body.”