Bengaluru, July 1: Temperamental Aussie Nick Kyrgios and German tennis legend Boris Becker were involved in an acrimonious war of words on social media after the former's criticism of Alexander Zverev for dancing in a crowded club despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-forced restrictions.
Zverev, the ATP world No.7, played at the ill-fated Adria Tour, where Novak Djokovic was among several players to test positive for coronavirus, as social-distancing guidelines were flouted blatantly in the charity event.
Zverev later said though he tested negative for COVID-19, he would follow self-isolation rules, with 14 days usually recommended. But the German was reportedly spotted partying in a video, posted on Instagram by German designer Philipp Plein.
There was no indication of when the video was taken and though it was later deleted, Kyrgios blasted the 23-year-old calling Zverev, 'selfish', prompting a rebuke from player-turned-commentator and former six-time Grand Slam champion Becker.
"Don't like no #rats! Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine! Look yourself in the mirror and think your better than us... @NickKyrgios," Becker tweeted.
Kyrgios, in his inimitable style was quick to respond, "For goodness sake Boris, I'm not competing or trying to throw anyone under the bus. It's a global pandemic and if someone is as idiotic as Alex to do what he has done, I'll call him out for it. Simple."
Zverev took part in Djokovic's event, which saw crowds packed into stands in Belgrade while players hugged at the net and played basketball in Croatia, much to the consternation of the tennis world
"We all live in the pandemic called #Covid_19! It's terrible and it killed to many lives...we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don't like #rats @NickKyrgios," Becker continued.
We all live in the pandemic called #Covid_19 ! It’s terrible and it killed to many lives...we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don’t like #rats @NickKyrgios @farfetch— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) June 30, 2020
Kyrgios did not take it lightly and gave it back to Becker, adding with a flourish.
"@TheBorisBecker is a bigger doughnut than I thought ... can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though."
@TheBorisBecker is a bigger doughnut than I thought. 😂😂 can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though.— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 30, 2020
The tennis season has been suspended since March due to COVID-19. Wimbledon, the oldest Grand Slam tournament scheduled to begin on June 29 was cancelled for the first time since World War II.
The ATP and WTA Tour seasons are scheduled to resume in August.
(With inputs from Agencies)