Kiwi doubles tennis star Michael Venus has lashed out at Nick Kyrgios after being ousted by the polarising Aussie on Tuesday.
Venus and German playing partner Tim Puetz were beaten in three sets by Kyrgios and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis in the quarter-final of the men's doubles draw in front of a raucous crowd that the Aussie pair whipped into a frenzy.
Speaking to TVNZ, Venus was critical of Kyrgios, calling him "an absolute knob".
"You see why he's never fulfilled his potential and probably never will," Venus said.
"His maturity level, it's probably being generous to about a 10-year-old, it's at about that level."
Kyrgios has always been a showman, bringing an exuberant personality with him into the arena. In Melbourne, particularly on the courts you only need a day pass to get into, his showmanship is backed by the loud and often rowdy Australian crowd.
Venus said that atmosphere made it hard to concentrate in a match where staying focused can have a major impact on the final result.
"It felt like a circus out there, and not really a tennis match," Venus said.
"Between serves, [they were] geeing the crowd up and getting them to cheer at times like that. I don't think that's really on.
"You know if it's on the other foot, old mate [Kyrgios] would have flipped his lid.
"He already did get mad there by himself. It's amazing, he can smash a ball out that hits a kid and just cause he gives them a racquet afterwards people can say he's such a good guy."
That incident saw Kyrgios angrily smack away a loose ball and hit a young boy in the crowd, a moment he feared would see him defaulted. He went over to check on the child and gave him a racket that he signed after the match.
"I saw it heading towards the kid and I thought, 'Oh no, I am getting defaulted'," Kyrgios said. "I was glad he was okay and I gave him the racket."
Venus said that was just one of many incidents that saw him receive a flood of messages and empathy after the match.
"The amount of messages I got from people – an extreme amount, way, way more than I've ever had – but then a lot of messages from people saying how embarrassed they were with the crowd's behaviour and they're sorry, it shouldn't have been like that.
"They'll always be his supporters and he'll spin it in a way that helps him but at the end of the day he's an absolute knob."
Venus isn't the only player to have addressed the crowd after dropping a match to Kyrgios through the tournament. Englishman Liam Broady, who was beaten in the first round of the men's singles draw by the Australian star, said he found it an "awful" atmosphere to be playing in.
"I obviously wanted to win and losing matches in general isn't enjoyable, and the atmosphere was incredible, but it's the first time I've ever walked onto a tennis court and been booed, which for me was a crazy experience.
"You get sledging from the sides like you can't believe, that you can't pick up on TV. It's a very difficult atmosphere to try and handle, and [Kyrgios] is incredible at getting them behind him and he plays better for it. I think that's very rare now, especially in the sport of tennis, people don't really interact with the crowd like he does, and that is one of his biggest strengths."