What’s that saying? All publicity is good publicity? Keep doing you, then, champion! Nick Kyrgios’s words to me the previous evening were bound to come back to my mind the moment the story from the Canberra Times dropped.
The 27-year-old is to appear in court in Canberra over allegations of common assault against ex-girlfriend Chiara Passari. Is that why Nike are paying the big dollars to the world No 40?
Or it is to trample in his bright red Jordans (kerching!) over his host’s polite request that players wear all-white tennis clothes while they compete for a slice of the £40m-plus prize pot the All England Lawn Tennis Club stump up in money.
Roger Federer accepts the rules, even Serena Williams. Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray. Kyrgios, meanwhile, “does what he wants”. His own words.
Many took on social media umbrage at me calling out Kyrgios for what is only, after all, a minor dress code technicality. But it was the underlying need to show such deliberate and planned disdain for the establishment that I was interested in pinpointing.
He is a player who spits towards fans, bullies opponents and rants at officials. And that’s just this fortnight. Unsurprisingly, he gives journalists a similar lack of shrift.
So you’re above the rules? “No. I’m not above the rules.” They don’t apply to you? “Well I just like wearing my Jordans.”
That’s fine then. So everyone else in both draws follows the rules but Nick Kyrgios doesn’t? “No-one else really walks with Jordans on the court.”
Which is when he came up with the “publicity” cliche which hopefully is giving him pause for thought in light of the serious allegations being made in Canberra.
What Kyrgios gets is cheap publicity. Easy publicity. The sort of publicity you otherwise get when you work your socks off to get into the world’s elite.
I was lucky enough to be courtside for Kyrgios’s sublime introduction to the wider world in 2014 when he swept Nadal off Centre Court.
While euphoria reigned that he had finally found the man to topple tennis’ Big Three, Nadal’s quiet words in defeat were wisely spoken.
“When we see a young player that arrives on the tour and plays a great match or plays a great tournament, people say he will be the next big star,” the Spaniard said.
“The sport is a mental part a lot of times. We will see if he is able to keep playing the latest rounds in the future.”
The irony is that for all the wonderful tennis Kyrgios has once again produced this fortnight, there are no ranking points up for grabs to propel him back towards to the top of the game.
So Kyrgios, who peaked as the world No 13 six years ago, may never grow up to fulfil that massive talent.
Instead, he will continue to argue, moan, infuriate, bully and distract and refuse to be held to account for any of it. Keep doing you, then, champion!