Nick Kyrgios has claimed he was racially abused by a fan at the Boss Open in Stuttgart during his straight-sets defeat to Andy Murray.
In a semi-final full of arguments and controversy, Murray edged out the first set via a tiebreak before Kygrios imploded in the second set to lose 7-6 (5) 6-2.
The 27-year-old Australian was visibly frustrated with the crowd throughout the afternoon, initially penalised a point and then a game for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second set.
He subsequently smashed his racquet following a heated exchange with spectators.
Kyrgios took to his Instagram story after the match, revealing he heard a racial taunt from a fan.
“When is this going to stop? Dealing with racial slurs from the crowd?" Kyrgios wrote.
“I understand that my behaviour isn’t the best all the time - but ‘you little black sheep’, ‘shut up and play’ - little comments like this are not acceptable.
“When I retaliate to the crowd, I get penalised. This is messed up.”
Kyrgios shared his feelings in another Instagram post, pushing for better treatment of athletes by fans.
“We are playing for you, whether you are backing the opponent or not,” he wrote.
“You may not think it’s a big deal, but it could affect someone’s life more than you think.
“Wake up to yourselves. Not just in tennis, but in every other sport.
“My young athletes, coloured or not, I hope that this message is heard so you don’t ever have to feel alienated, or embarrassed to be you and to perform on the world stage.”
His opponent - and good friend - Andy Murray was sympathetic towards Kyrgios in his post-match interview.
“You expect things to happen against him, so I’m not surprised when they do,” Murray said.
“It was a very frustrating set for him to lose and he broke a racquet.
“He also had a back and forth with the umpire and something seemed to happen in the crowd.”
Murray also re-stated his belief that Kyrgios has the ingredients required to challenge the game’s top players.
“You’re always kind of battling yourself as well as the opponent, it’s one of the difficult things about individual sports,” he said.
“Nick has the potential to be one of the best players in the world, there’s absolutely no question about that.
“But yeah, he obviously got very frustrated in the second set and made it a lot easier for me.”
Having revived his career following hip surgery, 35-year-old Murray will play against No. 2 seed Italian Matteo Berrettini in the Boss Open final.
If victorious, it will be the his first tour singles title since 2019.