Nick Kyrgios warns ‘clean-cut’ tennis will be in ‘dire need of personalities’ once the Big Three retires

ATP Tour
Nick Kyrgios with a towel

Tennis needs to loosen up and get behind the non-conforming players otherwise the sport could go through a dip once Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic retires, according to Nick Kyrgios.

The Australian is one of the big entertainers in tennis due to his flair and he is known for his trick shots during matches while away from the court he is never afraid to voice his opinion on tricky subjects.

Kyrgios, though, also cops a lot of flak for both his on and off-court antics and the 26-year-old believes it is because the sport does not embrace those who dare to be different .

“I feel like it’s the culture of the sport. It’s very clean, very clean-cut,” he said. “You get told to play a certain way. I got told to play a certain way. I got told to play like Diego Schwartzman when I was young. Cross-court, be disciplined, don’t change direction too much. Maybe don’t hit a big second serve there, that’s a bad drop shot.

“You have guys like [Alexander] Bublik and myself having success on the tour, being quality players, playing the way we play, and it’s entertainment.

“I think people now, especially myself, like, I don’t really care what people think I should play like. I know what I should play like. I feel comfortable and I’m happy the way I play. I feel like more people – he’s happy the way he plays. I saw him in the locker room, he chucks his Jordans on, he’s out. He’s going to rock up tomorrow. He may lose, but he’s happy with the way. He’s going out there being himself, playing the right game style.

“At the end of the day he’s going to look at himself in the mirror and say he’s happy playing that way. It’s good.”

Nick Kyrgios

The world No 60 says the non-conforming players are “making the sport awesome” and warns that once Federer, Nadal and Djokovic retire, then tennis will need to embrace the entertainers.

“I still think tennis especially locks in these types of players that have so much to give to the sport,” he said. “It happened for the first three, four years of my career. I was crucified for doing anything out of the ordinary, out of the box, talking to the crowd, hitting between my legs, underarm serve.

“The biggest example is when I hit an underarm serve against Rafa in Acapulco. It was like, Disgraced the game, he has no respect for the sport. He’s a disgrace. Then you have people like Kei Nishikori hitting underarm serves. It’s like, Oh, he’s so tactically switched on.

“You have players now that I love watching, like Bublik, you’ve got [Frances] Tiafoe. You’ve got these guys who are not conforming. They’re making the sport awesome. I feel like tennis has to get behind these players. Once Djokovic, Federer, Nadal all leave, this sport is going to be in dire need of personalities to take that torch.

“Yes, we’ve got Rublevs, Zverevs. But at the same time you need – they might take the mantle of those three, what about the others? You look at any other sport, there’s a wide range of players that are marketed. Look at the NBA, they market everyone. Like, tennis needs that. You got so many players that are just going to bring so many – Felix [Auger-Aliassime], for instance. He has, for me personally, he’s going to have such a wide fan base that needs to be tapped into to keep this sport alive.

“But look, I think they still do. I think they’re embracing it, I think the tennis world is embracing it. They know that. I think the tour knows they have some special people around. They have some people players, some young guys coming up that are just exciting to watch. We’ve got the potential to grow, for sure.”

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