'I can't do anything': Tennis ace Kyrgios BEGS fans to stop calls after rival posts PHONE NUMBER on Instagram on birthday (VIDEO)
Kyrgios had celebrated turning 25 by posting a series of clips showing him partying on previous birthdays when he ended the montage by imploring people to stop attempting to reach him after rival Tsitsipas seemed to give his number to fans.
Greek world number six Tsitsipas confused many of his following of more than 866,000 by posting a meme of himself holding a cardboard banner above his head, superimposed with the message "call me" and a mystery number written in ink.
Curious fans discovered that the dialing code was located in Kyrgios's native Australia and began to try it as rumors abounded that the number belonged to the infamously temperamental world number 40, who is characterized by his incendiary mood and frequently bizarre behavior on and off court.
"I understand that it’s my birthday today – 25, it’s a big one," began Kyrgios, issuing a stern ending to an Instagram story that had begun with him joking about being able to smoke cannabis on tour.
"But please... I understand that Tsitsipas posted my number on his Instagram.
"Please stop calling me. I can’t even play music, I can’t do anything. Please stop calling my cellphone – I appreciate it."
Eight hours after divulging the number, Tsitsipas had not removed the image and had continued the prank by posting another photo that replaced the message on the cardboard with the words "stop calling Nick."
Tsitsipas devised the stunt against Kyrgios, who has more than 1.4 million followers on the platform, after the man who beat him by the narrowest of margins at the ATP Cup in January promoted a video mocking the Greek's use of box jumps in training, adding: "F*ck with Stefanos Tsitsipas...this is hilarious."
Many fans who tried the number in the hope of reaching Kyrgios were left disappointed. "I just called the number – told me it was unavailable and to leave a message after the tone," said one, while another replied: "Please leak Federer's number."
Kyrgios is known as a prickly character but his relationship with Tsitsipas is clearly warmer for the time being than it is with his fellow professionals who he has clashed with over the years, perhaps as a result of his two tie-break wins over his higher-ranked friend in their career meetings to date.
He delivered a new pair of shoes to Tsitsipas on court when they met in Washington last year, carrying the footwear from his opponent's team to his chair before sealing the handover by kneeling before him.
In a more shocking incident, Tsitsipas showed something of the fire Kyrgios is known for when he inadvertently hurt his own father, Apostolos, in a show of frustration after losing the first set of his second encounter with Kyrgios.
Tsitsipas senior reacted with shock, was visibly bruised on his arm and moved to a safer vantage point, watching his son receive a penalty point and a warning for his troubles before later earning a telling off from his mother.
"I’ve done some stupid things as well in the heat of the moment, so it was obviously an accident," observed Kyrgios, whose extensive list of feuds and meltdowns includes impersonating Rafael Nadal during a match against his Spanish nemesis and being fined $113,000 for an incident at a tournament in August that featured him smashing his racket, swearing at an umpire and storming off court.
Fans responded to Kyrgios ridiculing Tsitsipas by producing memes based around the cardboard sign and agreeing with the original post about the 21-year-old's box jumps, in which New York Times tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg described the conditioning move as "some truly peak NextGen nonsense."
Kyrgios had spoken of his admiration for American tennis great and repeated on-court offender John McEnroe a few days earlier, saying: "Mac, we would have had a lot of fun together if we were in the same generation."
He has also used his time in Canberra, where he is based while the tennis calendar is suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, to explain in a heartfelt post alongside a portrait photo: "This version of me wasn’t built overnight.
"This is experience. This is pain. This is insecurities. This is abuse. This is depression. I had to go through things to get to the level I’m at now."Also on rt.com Game, set and MATCH? Russian tennis stunner Anna Kalinskaya fuels Nick Kyrgios romance rumors with basketball date