Mats Wilander insists tennis does not need ‘bad boys’ to thrive

ATP Tour
Nick Kyrgios wiping his face

Mats Wilander has questioned whether tennis needs ‘bad boys’ to raise its profile, as he suggested the sport’s clean-cut image does not need to change.

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev have been subjected to jeers by the US Open fans in recent days and the enduring debate over Nick Kyrgios and his questionable antics on and off the court has dominated the tennis agenda in recent weeks.

Yet former Grand Slam champion and Eurosport expert Mats Wilander has insisted tennis will continue to thrive in the post-Roger Federer/Rafael Nadal era, with or without its more controversial characters.

“The crowd don’t really mean anything when they are booing Novak,” declared Wilander. “They don’t really mean anything when they are booing Medvedev – they just want to have fun.

“It’s not something that comes from the heart, it has always happened at the US Open. They always find something or somebody that they want to get on top of, or root for.

“Medvedev is just taking it in and using it to his advantage because it gives him energy, everyone loves playing tennis when both outcomes please somebody. Basically, Medvedev is playing with nothing to lose right now.

“People are saying you weren’t getting the characters like you did in the past, I would always say you have characters in Nadal and Federer. They are personalities and have characters beyond anyone else.

“Novak is a little more volatile and now we have some ‘bad boys’. Is everyone happy? Well they are, but they are happy for the wrong reasons. Tennis is a better sport than having to misbehave to create some kind of attention.

“At the same time, it’s good for the people that have been critical of the cleanliness of the top players. Now they are getting it. Roger said it the other day that in our sport, we respect each other and basically that’s what it’s about – I agree with him more than the other side. I really do.”

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