British qualifier Liam Broady has admitted he struggled to cope with the level of verbal abuse hurled at him by the crowd during his first-round Australian Open defeat to Nick Kyrgios.
Broady was jeered on Tuesday night as he walked out to play on Kyrgios’ favourite court at John Cain Arena, where the Canberran showman has developed a cult following in recent years.
Fans were vocal throughout the night and while Broady saw the lighter side of some of their antics – as well as those of Kyrgios – he revealed post-match he found the overall experience “absolutely awful”.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever walked onto a tennis court and been booed, which for me was a crazy experience,” world No.128 Broady said.
“You get sledged from the sides like you can’t believe, [which] they don’t pick up on TV.
“It was a very, very difficult atmosphere to try and handle, and he (Kyrgios) is incredible at getting them behind him and he plays better for it.
“I think that’s very rare, especially in the sport of tennis.
“Now people don’t really interact with the crowd like he does and that’s one of his biggest strengths.”
Broady said fellow players had warned him to prepare for Kyrgios to treat him with “disrespect” on court in their first encounter on tour.
But the 28-year-old didn’t feel the Australian had crossed a line with his array of unconventional trick shots and on-court gestures that were aimed at whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
“Sometimes he makes you feel stupid with the shots he hits, with the underarm serves through the legs and the little lobs and the dinks and then the big hits,” Broady said.
“Sometimes you feel like a bit of a club player out there. That’s what he does.
“That’s one of his biggest weapons.
“I think if you told Nick to stop all of that showmanship and all the stuff that he does it would take away a big strength of his game.
“I am all for it, to be honest, even when it’s against me.”
Kyrgios, who took a sip from one fan’s beer as he signed autographs post-match, was also frustrated by some of the crowd’s behaviour.
Fans repeatedly called out “siuuu” – a catchcry made famous by football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo – throughout the match.
“I can’t believe they did it so much,” Kyrgios said.
“They were doing some Ronaldo thing … Ronaldo does it every time he scores.
“I thought they were going to do it for like 10 minutes (but) they did it for two-and-a-half hours, like every point. It was a zoo out there.”
Kyrgios will play No.2 seed Daniil Medvedev in the second round.