Fans split on Aussie tennis’ rising star

HE has been labelled arrogant, boorish ... even an embarrassment to the game.

But rising Aussie star Nick Kyrgios will have most of the crowd at Rod Laver Arena on his side when he takes on temperamental Scot Andy Murray in an Australian Open quarter-final tonight.

The teenager won a host of new fans after coming from two sets down to beat Italy's Andreas Seppi 5-7 4-6 6-3 7-6 8-6 on Sunday night, but he also attracted plenty of criticism for continually throwing his racquet on the ground, and also for swearing at a fan who was talking on his mobile phone.

"Get off your f***ing phone," he clearly yelled during the crucial fourth set.

Kyrgios was fined $4926 for racquet abuse and audible obscenities during his first-round match against Argentina's Federico Delbonis, and his outbursts and behaviour in the round-of-16 clash will no doubt again prove costly.

It certainly generated a torrent of criticism on social media, @applaudlife tweeting: "#Kyrgios embarrassing our country on the eve of our national day. Show some dignity & respect. No one is proud of your attitude."

Another Twitter post read: "#Kyrgios has a LOT of growing up to do. And if the crowd's blind nationalism keeps up, he may never. An embarrassment to the game."

Other fans suggested Kyrgios was a breath of fresh air in a game desperate for characters, some pointing out his behaviour was tame compared to the likes of volatile Americans John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Jeff Tarango, not to mention women's world No.1 Serena Williams who famously threatened a lineswoman at the 2009 US Open by saying: "I swear to God I'll f***ing take the ball and shove it down your f***ing throat".

The young Aussie has also attracted plenty of support from punters, with Sportsbet reporting a flood of money for Kyrgios, who has been installed the rank outsider at $5.75 to beat Murray, a three-time runner-up at Melbourne Park.

"For every bet we are taking on Murray, we are taking six bets on Kyrgios. Punters were unsure in his last match against Seppi, but their patriotism is obvious in this one," Sportsbet's Shaun Anderson said.

Regardless of the result, Kyrgios' emergence has convinced many that Australian tennis has found a genuine star.

FACT FILE

Kyrgios is the first male teenager to reach two grand slam quarter-finals since Roger Federer in 2001.

He is the first teenager to reach the last eight at the Australian Open since Russia's Andrei Cherkasov in 1990.



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