Tennis365’s Top 10 tennis mavericks: Where does Nick Kyrgios rank?

Shahida Jacobs
Nick Kyrgios talking
Nick Kyrgios talking

The word maverick is described in the Cambridge Dictionary as “a person who thinks and acts in an independent way, often behaving differently from the expected or usual way”.

We know Messrs Ivanisevic, McEnroe and Baghdatis will step forward, but read further to see who else makes the list.

10. Gael Monfils
Monfils is a true showman, but not in a fiery or controversial sense on the scale of John McEnroe or Goran Ivanisevic. He is flamboyant on the court and produces shots that end up as GIFS that everyone wants to share.

So instead of trying to thumb suck controversies, here is a video to show you his incredible talent and some light-hearted moments.

9. Dustin Brown
With his dreadlocks, tongue piercing and a massive tattoo on his torso, Brown is one of the most recognisable characters in tennis.

However, he is just as well known for his cheeky drop shots, speed and upset victories at Grand Slams as the world first took note of him when he beat Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon in 2015.

Of course, everyone wanted to know more about Brown after the Nadal match and plenty of facts came to light so here are a few:

– His last hair cut was in August 1996.

– His mother is German and his father Jamaican.

– To help with his tennis expenses, his parents bought him a camper van in 2004 so that he could travel to tournaments across Europe.

– During the early stages of his career, he made money on Tour by restringing the rackets of fellow players.

– The tattoo on his torso is not, in fact, of Bob Marley, but of his father Leroy.

8. Jeff Tarango
Jeff Tarango won only two ATP titles during a professional career that started in 1989 and lasted until 2010, but he was one of the more controversial figures on the tour.

At Wimbledon in 1995 the American told the crowd “oh, shut up!” after they heckled him. He was given a code violation and he then accused the umpire Bruno Rebeuh of being “one of the most corrupt officials in the game”. Things got out of control and he stormed off the court, but that wasn’t that as his wife later slapped the umpire. He was eventually banned from the 1996 Wimbledon edition.

7. Marcos Baghdatis
Tennis’ marathon man often came across as quiet and unassuming, but he had his moments on and off the court.

There was this racquet-smashing incident at the 2012 Aussie Open. While most players smash one, or sometimes two, racquets during a match, the Cypriot destroyed four, and he did it all in one go.

Then there was the cellphone incident at the 2016 US Open when he was given a code violation for using his phone during a match.

His reason?

“What if I want to check the time? I cannot check the time?” was his response to the umpire at the time, but he later admitted that he sent a message to his wife.

It is anyone’s guess what the message was as he refused to say. Maybe it was “honey, I left the iron on”.

6. Nick Kyrgios
Surely one of, if not the most volatile player on the ATP Tour at the moment. He is still in his early 20s, but he has already been accused of “not trying” and “lacking dedication”.

He introduced himself to the world of tennis when he beat world No 1 Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014 and then made the quarter-finals of the Australian Open the following year.

However, it wasn’t until Wimbledon 2015 that we saw the other side of Kyrgios as he was hit with a string of code violation warnings and was also heard calling someone “dirty scum”, but he maintained it wasn’t directed at the chair umpire.

He was later accused of “tanking” during his second-round loss against Richard Gasquet. He denied it at the time, but in 2017 he admitted that he had “probably” tanked at eight tournaments so far in his career.

Perhaps his most controversial moment so far was at the 2015 Rogers Cup when he told Stan Wawrinka on court that “Thanasi Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend, sorry to tell you that, mate”. The Aussie was fined and handed a 28-day suspension by the ATP.

Even John McEnroe has criticised his behaviour, but at least Kyrgios is honest with himself and has admitted that he “does not love tennis”.

5. Ilie Nastase
Ilie Nastase’s legacy has been tainted in recent years after he was banned from tennis for making racist comments about Serena Williams in 2016 and also called Great Britain’s Anne Keothavong and Johann Konta “f******* b******” during a Fed Cup tie.

But he was a maverick and showstopper during the 70s and 80s.

At the 1979 US Open his match against John McEnroe was delayed for nearly 20 minutes after he got involved in a heated debate with the umpire over a docked point. The crowd became involved and threw beer cans and cups on the court. The match was eventually restarted, after the umpire was changed, and McEnroe ended up winning.

4. Marat Safin
From dating models to having snazzy sports cars and smashing rackets, the Russian was flashy on and off the court during his heyday.

During his 12-year professional career he won 15 ATP singles titles, including two Grand Slams, but many feel he didn’t quite fulfil his potential due to his fiery character and lack of motivation.

Some of his interesting moments included pulling his shorts down during the 2004 French Open and arriving at a tournament in Perth in 2009 with two black eyes saying “I won the fight, I’m good, I’m OK”.

The man himself has no regrets.

“I’ve lived my life the way I wanted to, whether scaling the mountains, partying long into the night or having fun playing soccer,” he said before retiring in 2009.

“As for my tennis career, I probably could have won a few more (titles) but if it was up to me I wouldn’t change a thing.”

3. Jimmy Connors
With eight Grand Slam singles titles to his name, Connors will go down as one of tennis’ greatest ever players, but also had a bad-boy reputation and was known for his outbursts on court.

He often went head to head with the ATP and actually filed a lawsuit against the organisation at one stage for “allegedly restricting his freedom in the game” after he was banned from the 1974 French Open for signing a contract to play World Team Tennis.

Along with McEnroe, he was part of the Brat Pack of tennis and was never afraid to let rip with a foul-mouthed tirade on court.

And here he is going head-to-head with McEnroe

2. Goran Ivanisevic
The volatile Croatian was once forced to retire from a match because he ran out of rackets after smashing every single one in his bag.

Ivanisevic was never afraid to admit throughout his career that he was his own worst enemy and often lost concentration.

“My mind goes away,” he once said. “It just goes to the beach. I’ve told myself what I am doing is stupid. I play against five people every match – myself, my opponent, umpire, ball boys, everybody. Fighting with everybody. It is tough to win.”

After learning to “control himself”, he went on a fairytale run at Wimbledon in 2001 to win the title, his only Grand Slam, after being given a wildcard entry. His victory over Pat Rafter was one of the most dramatic and heart-warming matches that SW19 has produced.

1. John McEnroe
Tennis’ original brat, or SuperBrat as he was dubbed by the media, set the standard pretty high from the late 70s up until his retirement in 1992. Actually scrap that, he is still at it today.

“He is the most vain, ill-tempered, petulant loudmouth that the game of tennis has ever known,” The Sun wrote of the American in 1979.

Meanwhile The Washington Post described him as a “precocious brat — immensely talented, spoiled and rather obnoxious”.

With his long curly hair and headband, he was known for throwing a tantrum or two and the phrase “you cannot be serious” is synonymous with the American.

Here you go, have a video to go with it.

Despite all his antics, he was very good when it came to playing tennis as he won 77 ATP singles titles, which includes seven Grand Slams, and also 78 doubles titles.

Not bad for a man who was nearly thrown out of Wimbledon for calling an umpire “the pits of the world” and swearing at the tournament referee.