Nick Kyrgios refused to play for several minutes in his blockbuster Wimbledon third round win over Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Greek star hit a ball into the crowd and appeared to hit someone.
Kyrgios had just squared the match at a set-all when Tsitsipas sent a backhand volley into the audience. A slow-motion replay appeared to show the ball bouncing off a wall and potentially connecting with the back of the head of a man seated close to the court.
The Aussie demanded his opponent was defaulted from the match like Novak Djokovic at the 2020 US Open – and refused to play until the matter was resolved by officials.
"Is that a default or what? He just hit the ball at the f***ing crowd. Are you dumb? So you can hit a ball at the crowd, hit someone and not get defaulted? Are you dumb?," he said to the chair umpire.
"You're a disgrace. You change the rules whenever you want …
"Give me all the supervisors. I'm not playing until we get to the bottom of it."
Kyrgios eventually agreed to begin the third set went on to win the thriller after a fourth tie breaker 6-7 6-4 6-3 7-6.
BBC commentator John Lloyd said the Aussie was lucky to remain on the court due to his intimidation of the umpire.
"You can't help but think that this match was unfair in so many ways," Lloyd said.
"The intimidation from early days there…the umpire and the Nick Kyrgios situation has got to be stamped out. He's entertaining, and I love entertainment but it went way too far the things that he was doing in those first three sets. I think he was fortunate to be on the court."
It was a wild match that had all the hallmarks of a classic early on.
The first three games went to deuce – although neither player was able to break.
Kyrgios began racing through his service games at warp speed, adding a little flavour for the crowd with a tweener serve and another pump-fake tweener serve followed by a bomb down the tee.
But the wheels fell off after the Aussie was on the wrong side of an incorrect line call as he pushed to break Tsitsipas at 5-5.
Kyrgios was furious and asked the chair umpire to remove the offending linesperson.
"She has one f***ing line to call," Kyrgios said at the change of ends. "It's annoying. Mistakes every match. At 5 all."
He recovered to hold serve and force a tie-breaker, but an early double fault put him behind and it appeared he was wobbling.
Tsitsipas moved ahead 4-2 with a brilliant return past Kyrgios – who was attempting to serve and volley – before the Greek star showed great composure by walking away as Kyrgios prepared to serve while continuing to berate the line judge.
"He's got every right to do that," ESPN's commentator said.
Kyrgios lost the tie-breaker 7-2 taking his record in tiebreaks in 2022 to 5-8 – and he kept finding new things to complain about early in the second set after Tsitsipas challenged a line call during a point the Aussie ended up winning.
"You know what that's called? Abuse of the system," said Kyrgios, because he believed his opponent only challenged once he knew he couldn't win the point.
Despite all the distractions Kyrgios was relatively untroubled on serve. He had a break point up 4-3 but like the first set was unable to capitalise.
He nearly gave away the following game with a couple of errant attempted drop shots before earning a warning from the chair umpire after being reported by another linesman for offensive language.
But in the blink of an eye, the second set was his.
Tsitsipas showed nerves for the first time in the match down break point at 5-4 and handed Kyrgios a point he had no real right to win.
You would have thought the turn of events would have refocused the Aussie but he returned to his seat in as foul a mood as ever after seeing Tsitsipas hit the ball into the crowd in apparent frustration.
After the disruption, Kyrgios quickly took control of the third set. He broke Tsitsipas in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead before winning his next service game to love.
He secured a 4-1 lead with another drop shot that Tsitsipas smashed hard into the opposite wall to earn boos from a crowd that was now firmly behind the Aussie.
It was now Tsitsipas having long discussions with the chair umpire, apparently about how Kyrgios had largely escaped penalty-free for his controversial behaviour.
"We are here to play tennis!" he said.
But he couldn't reel back Kyrgios – who kept his cool even when Tsitsipas appeared to start intentionally drilling shots at his body.
There was another moment of drama early in the fourth when the Aussie lost his footing and went down clutching his hip area.
But he returned to his feet and kept the pressure pouring on the fourth seed.