Kyrgios weighs in on Djokovic controversy

Nick Kyrgios has taken to Twitter to start a poll asking fans how long they think he would have been suspended for had he hit a linesperson with a tennis ball.

NICK KYRGIOS of Australia plays a backhand against Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Australia.
NICK KYRGIOS of Australia plays a backhand against Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Australia. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios couldn't help himself, posing the question many others may have wondered after Novak Djokovic was sensationally booted out of the US Open for hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a tennis ball.

Once suspended from the tour after falling foul of officialdom one too many times, Kyrgios took to Twitter to start a poll to determine what fans thought his punishment would have been for committing such an offence.

"Swap me for jokers incident. 'Accidentally hitting the ball kid in the throat' how many years would I be banned for?" asked the sport's most polarising figure.

"5? 10? 20?"

One respondent said Kyrgios would get a life ban.

The Australian boycotted the US Open, saying officials were "selfish" for forging ahead with the grand slam during COVID-19 and claiming Djokovic, the former head of the players' association, failed his peers by contesting the major.

"Hell of a tennis player. May go unbeaten in 2020, can't take that away from him. Unfortunately when he was supposed to show some leadership and humility he went missing. Majority would say he has taken an L regardless," Kyrgios posted last month.

The first L of Djokovic's season has blown the Open open, ensuring a first-time champion will be crowned next Monday morning, possibly even 21-year-old Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur.

While some thought his disqualification was harsh, most agreed it was the only outcome.

"Players have been defaulted for less," said Australian super-coach and ESPN commentator Darren Cahill.

Tennis legend Billie-Jean King concurred.

"The rule is the rule. It is unfortunate for everyone involved, but in this specific situation the default was the right call," the 12-times grand slam champion tweeted.

But the world No.1 was not without sympathy, including from several of his rivals who stand to benefit from the Serb's ejection.

"I think the supervisors and all them are just doing their job, but very unlucky for Novak," said fifth seed Alexander Zverev, who could have run into Djokovic in the semi-finals.

"If it would have landed anywhere else - we're talking a few inches - he would have been fine."

Zverev's quarter-final opponent, Croatian Borna Coric, who contracted coronavirus like Djokovic after appearing at the Serb's ill-fated Adria Tour charity tournament in July, said: "I feel sorry for him".

"At the same time, you know, that's the rules. I think he needed to be defaulted. There is not much else to say," Coric said after ousting Australian Jordan Thompson on Monday.

"Again, I do feel sorry for him. He's my friend. Obviously I think nobody's happy that that happened."

Djokovic took to social media to apologise, saying he needed to evolve as a human being.

But four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman, once disqualified himself for hitting a ball girl at The All England Club, said the top seed should have fronted up to the media first rather than drive away from Flushing Meadows without explaining himself.

"Unfortunately he's compounding the error," Henman said.

"He needs to face up to it, apologise and accept he made a mistake.

"By, in essence, running away, it's going to go on longer."