British qualifier Liam Broady claims he was on the receiving end of sledging and booing from the John Cain Arena crowd during his first-round loss to Nick Kyrgios, describing aspects of the experience as “absolutely awful”.
- Broady claims he was sledged and booed during his match against Kyrgios
- Kyrgios says he draws upon the energy of the John Cain Arena crowd
- Broady did not feel disrespected by Kyrgios’s showmanship
John Cain Arena has built a reputation as the “people’s court”, with spectators renowned for being less reserved than those attending matches on other Melbourne Park courts, such as Rod Laver Arena.
Kyrgios jokingly described Tuesday night’s crowd — even at a reduced capacity — as a “zoo” in light of their behaviour during his 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Broady in their Australian Open first-round match.
The Canberran has long been a crowd favourite at John Cain Arena and he spoke after the match about how he drew upon their energy.
Broady said he was shocked to be sledged and booed throughout the match.
“Everyone is telling me, ‘Oh you’ll really enjoy it, It’s going to be amazing [playing Kyrgios]’,” he said.
“But I thought it was absolutely awful. I obviously wanted to go out there and win, so losing matches, in general, isn’t enjoyable.
“The atmosphere was incredible, but it was the first time I’ve ever walked onto a tennis court and been booed, which was for me was a crazy experience.
“So it was a very, very difficult atmosphere to try and handle and he’s (Kyrgios) 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 he did not blame Kyrgios for the behaviour of the spectators.
“The way he orchestrates the crowd: you see videos on TV, but it doesn’t do it justice when you’re playing in front of an Aussie crowd, Nick Kyrgios’s home court,” he said.
“It was pretty crazy out there. But [I’m] glad to have got it out of the way.”
Kyrgios said he was inspired by the John Cain Arena crowd, acknowledging he used them to “spark some energy”.
“I know I’ve got the crowd in the palm of my hand,” he said.
“Liam is a great player but his experience on that court in that situation — when the crowd is going nuts — he has never experienced that before, hence the reason why on breakpoints I’m trying to get the crowd up, get him to feel the pressure a little bit more.”
Kyrgios kept the crowd entertained throughout the match, with his use of trick shots against Broady especially pleasing the John Cain Arena faithful.
Broady said he did not feel disrespected by the way Kyrgios played, highlighting tennis players had a role to “entertain the people”.
“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, and sometimes you feel like a bit of a club player out there,” he said.
“That’s what he does. That’s one ever his biggest weapons.
“So, I am all for it, to be honest, even when it’s against me.”