(Reuters) - Australia's Nick Kyrgios frowned and fumed at the chair umpire during Wednesday's Murray River Open match with Harry Bourchier and needed assurance from a tournament supervisor that he would not be fined by the ATP before agreeing to play on.
The mercurial 25-year-old, playing his first tournament in nearly a year due to COVID-19 pandemic, walked off and refused to play after the chair umpire called a time violation when he was in his service motion late in the second set.
A meeting with supervisor Cedric Mourier followed, in which Kyrgios called the chair umpire a "smart arse", adding: "Tennis is not about the umpires. He's an extra to make sure all this... goes smoothly."
Kyrgios eventually went on to beat compatriot Bourchier 6-2 7-6(7) and make the last 16 of the Australian Open warm-up event in Melbourne.
"I just like playing by the rules," Kyrgios, who has been fined several times for his meltdowns and was handed a suspended 16-week ban by the ATP in 2019, said in his on-court interview.
"I didn't want to play until I made sure I wasn't going to get fined, because the ATP does me pretty rough all the time, they fine me too much money."
Earlier, former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka beat Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 6-1 in his first competitive match since a defeat by Alexander Zverev in the Paris Masters quarter-finals last year.
The top seed, bidding for a first ATP crown since winning in Geneva in 2017, takes on local favourite Alex Bolt on Thursday.
Wawrinka underwent knee surgery following his last title and had trouble with niggling injuries through 2018 during which his ranking fell to 263. He is currently ranked 18th.
Wawrinka's coach Daniel Vallverdu said in December the 35-year-old, who won the 2014 Australian Open, will make a final push for success before the end of his career.
The Australian Open begins on Monday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel and Christian Radnedge)