London - Nick Kyrgios furiously denied giving up trying as he crashed out of Wimbledon and slammed his image as the bad boy of tennis in terse exchanges with reporters.
The temperamental Australian, who missed out on reaching the quarter-finals in a 7-5, 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (8/6) to Richard Gasquet on Monday, vented his frustration at suggestions he "tanked" a game in the disastrous second set with a string of sarcastic replies.
But the 20-year-old world number 29 received support from senior players Roger Federer and Andy Murray, who backed him to change his ways as he matures.
Gasquet broke in the second game of the second set and Kyrgios responded petulantly -appearing to "tank" in the next game as he walked in the opposite direction to one Gasquet serve and then gently knocked another return into the net.
Repeatedly asked if he had thrown a game, Kyrgios replied: "I kept playing. And that's coming from you?
"Do you want to try to return Richard Gasquet's serve? I'll give you the racquet and we'll see how many times you can return his serve.
"He served too good.
"How many aces did he hit that game? One? That game, did he hit one ace? Did he hit one ace?
"Of course I tried.
"If they decide to fine me, they can fine me."
Kyrgios had earned a reputation as something of a malcontent during the tournament as he argued with umpires, shouting out "dirty scum" during one row, bounced a racket into the crowd, and claimed he didn't care how people viewed his antics.
The Canberra right-hander told reporters he felt misunderstood, due to "what you write about me".
"Even if I tell you what to write, you're not going to write it," he snapped.
Kyrgios said he did not see himself as the bad boy of tennis.
"Not at all. Just because I show emotion out on the court, I'm 'bad'. So, whatever," the Australian number two said.
"There's a lot of things going on at the moment that aren't focusing on actual tennis. There's just a lot of stuff going on. You don't need to know about them."
At one point during the Gasquet defeat, Kyrgios cuddled a ball boy.
"I just felt like a hug, I guess. Everyone now and then wants a hug," he said.
"It hurts. I expected more out of myself. I feel like I've let people down."
Britain's world number three Murray, 28, who endured his own testy relationship with the press in his younger years, said veteran Australian tennis stars could steer Kyrgios on the right path.
"The most important thing is to try to be yourself. I don't think people always appreciate how difficult it is to grow up under the spotlight," the Scot said.
"I like Nick. He'll find his way, for sure. But he'll hopefully have good people around him that can help him, people that have experienced being on the tour. Guys like Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter.
"I'm sure in the next few years he'll start to calm down a bit"
World number two Federer, said it was not worth digging to deep into whether Kyrgios had "tanked" or not.
"One game to me is part of tactics, as well, sometimes to throw the other guy off," the 17-time Grand Slam champion said.
"You can be frustrated and just not feel like it for a couple of points."
Meanwhile Gasquet said he had nothing to complain about from Kyrgios's alleged "tanking".
"Sometimes it happens. He's not the only one to did it. Even the best player in the world did it in the past. It's true, he gave me a little bit this set," he said.
"I don't know what happened. He was a little bit frustrated."