Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday denied making racist comments over bitter rival Nick Kyrgios, claiming his remarks that the Australian firebrand played “uneducated” tennis have been “misinterpreted”.
The world number five also told Netflix’s Break Point series that Kyrgios brought “an NBA basketball attitude” to tennis.
The remarks were recorded at Wimbledon last year after the two men fought out a controversial third round tie in which Tsitsipas claimed Kyrgios should have been defaulted for hitting the ball into the crowd.
Kyrgios, who won the match and went on to finish runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the final, said Tsitispas had “serious issues” after the Greek described him as “evil” and a “bully”.
On Saturday, Tsitispas hit back at claims on social media that his latest comments about Kyrgios were racist.
“It has come to my attention that some individuals have misinterpreted my comments regarding Nick Kyrgios, labelling him as uneducated and accusing him of bringing a basketball mentality into tennis, insinuating racism where none exists,” Tsitsipas wrote on Facebook.
“I deeply regret if my words were misinterpreted or caused offence, as that was never my intention.
“My previous remarks regarding Nick Kyrgios were not meant to undermine his intelligence or abilities. Instead, I simply intended to express my perspective on certain aspects of his playing style, drawing comparisons to the passion and intensity often associated with basketball.
“It was an attempt to highlight the dynamic and captivating nature of his approach to the game, not a criticism of his character or capabilities.”
Tsitsipas added: “I deeply regret any hurt or offence my words may have caused. Moving forward, I commit to being more mindful of my words and the impact they may have.”
The 28-year-old Australian shrugged off the controversy.
“It was a very heated battle — sometimes as players we go into these press conferences without digesting the match.
“We’ve had some crazy battles and I know deep down you like my brand of tennis. We are all good @steftsitsipas,” Kyrgios tweeted.
Both Tsitsipas and Kyrgios were due to play at the Mallorca Open next week but the Australian pulled out on Saturday with a knee injury.
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