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Cash slams Kyrgios amid golden Aussie run

Sport

Pat Cash has launched a blistering attack on Nick Kyrgios, accusing his fellow Australian of cheating, abuse and dragging tennis down to new depths.

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The 1987 Wimbledon champion, who commentated on Kyrgios’s spiteful barn-burner of a victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday, said the controversial Canberra showman was turning the game into a circus.

Both men were hit on Sunday for their dismal behaviour.

Tsitsipas was fined $US10,000 ($A14,700) for hitting a ball that narrowly missed spectators and Kyrgios, who’d already received the same punishment after spitting in his first-round match, was slugged a further $US4,000 ($A6,000) for his histrionics.

With Kyrgios given his first centre-court date of the championships tonight in a fourth-round clash with American Brandon Nakashima, Cash said pointedly: “Let’s hope he doesn’t drop tennis there to a lower level than he did on Saturday.”

Cash wasn’t the only luminary to lambast Kyrgios, as Mats Wilander and even the greatest ‘bad boy’ of them all, John McEnroe, both weighed in.

In Saturday’s contest, Tsitsipas could easily have been defaulted for whacking the ball into the crowd, and Kyrgios, who’d aimed foul-mouthed tirades at hapless chair umpire Damien Dumusois, tried to get the official to do just that.

The Greek, who twice also deliberately aimed to hit his opponent with the ball, claimed afterwards the Australian was a bully and had an “evil side” while Kyrgios shrugged Tsitsipas was just soft and had “serious issues”.

But Cash, in the BBC commentary box, was left disgusted by his compatriot.

“It was absolute mayhem,” he said on BBC radio on Sunday.

“He’s brought tennis to the lowest level I can see as far as gamesmanship, cheating, manipulation, abuse, aggressive behaviour to umpires, to linesmen.

“He was lucky to even get through the first set, he should have been defaulted in the first set.

“Something’s got to be done about it – it’s just an absolute circus. Is it entertaining? Yeah, possibly. It’s gone to the absolute limit now.”

Cash was speaking after he’d been on centre court for the centenary parade of former champions but he’s evidently concerned at the prospect of how Kyrgios might conduct himself there.

Three-time Australian Open champion Wilander told Eurosport: “I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I’m not sure I want to see something like that again, to be honest, because I don’t think this is what we want to promote in tennis. We want to not promote it as entertainment.

“We want to promote it as inspirational, educational, but this is what people maybe want to see. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of what’s going on to be honest.”

The greatest irony was McEnroe’s attack while commentating for ESPN. “It’s embarrassing. He doesn’t need to do all this,” said the man once dubbed ‘Superbrat’ at SW19 for his behaviour but is now one of its favourite fixtures.

“It’s scary how good he is – that’s what’s sad in a way.”

Kyrgios says it’s too soon to look ahead to a must-watch all-Australian Wimbledon quarter-final with Alex de Minaur.

That’s the tantalising reality, though, as Kyrgios and de Minaur enter their respective fourth-round matches on Monday as warm favourites to advance to the last eight.

A quarter-finalist in 2014, Kyrgios didn’t drop serve once in Saturday’s fractious affair, keeping his cool when it mattered most to save all five break points he faced.

Asked if he believed he could win the title, Kyrgios tellingly said: “Yeah, I feel good.

“Round by round, if I keep doing my things, I feel good. I’m all right.”

De Minaur also plays an unseeded opponent in world No.43 Cristian Garin and has yet to drop a set in three clashes with the Chilean, the most recent two weeks ago on grass at Eastbourne.

“Hopefully, I can play another good match and just try to worry about my side of the court, doing the right things. We’ll see what happens,” said Australia’s 19th seed.

With inspired qualifier Jason Kubler also through and Ajla Tomljanovic still going in the women’s singles, Australia has four players in Wimbledon’s fourth round for the first time since 1999.

“It’s great,” de Minaur said.

“I’ve had a lot to deal with ‘Kygs’ over the years, whether it’s Davis Cup or ATP Cup. He’s always been there. But just to be able to see Kubler doing what he’s doing, it’s just special.”

Kubler continues his fairytale campaign against American 11th seed Taylor Fritz, while Tomljanovic takes on Alize Cornet, the Frenchwoman who sensationally removed world No.1 Iga Swiatek in the third round.

Kubler will be chasing a 20th victory from 22 matches, a golden stretch that started before the French Open, while Tomljanovic’s only loss in her past eight outings at Wimbledon came against Ash Barty in last year’s quarter-finals.

If all four hopefuls happen to win, as they did on Saturday, Australia will have four Wimbledon quarter-finalists for the first time since the halcyon days of 1974 when Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Evonne Goolagong and Kerry Melville all made it to the last eight.

 – with Darren Walton/AAP

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