Nick Kyrgios comment: Why the Aussie maverick is a blessing tennis needs right now
Tennis has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks and just for once, Nick Kyrgios was not playing the role of the bad boy.
More often than not over the course of his explosive career, stories about Kyrgios have related to his garish behaviour on and off the court, with plenty of traditionalists convinced the outspoken Aussie had no place in the gentle sport of tennis.
Take the views of former British No.1 Annabel Croft as a case in point, as she suggested the maverick Aussie who will take on Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the Australian Open is a negative influence on the sport.
“He’s very outspoken and he does things that create an enormous amount of attention,” said Croft last year.
“He’s turned himself into this bad guy, a pantomime villain. I have to say, after some of the behaviour that I’ve seen from Nick Kyrgios I’m not one that’s inclined to really respect a lot of what he does.”
It is an opinion shared by many on the game, yet the return of Kyrgios after an extended lay-off from the game in the first Grand Slam of 2022 provided a welcome diversion from a story that made his previous ‘crimes and misdemeanors seem like small fry.
The circus surrounding the Novak Djokovic visa dispute with the Australian government was a battle that no-one ended up winning, with Djokovic sent back to Serbia after initially being granted a visa to enter Australia and tennis being drowned by a tidal wave of negativity it could have done without.
Those who prefer the finer aspects of the game may have sighed with despair as Kyrgios was presented as the diversion tennis was looking for in his opening match against Britain’s Liam Broady in Melbourne, but the joy and madness he injected onto the court was a vaccine everyone would welcome.
I once had the pleasure of warming up on a tennis court next to Kyrgios, as he prepared to play at The Boodles event at Stoke Park in 2018 and as you might expect, he was not following the tennis etiquette.
Those long-standing guidlines have never applied to this outsider who likes to push boundaries, so we should not have been surprised to see Kyrgios warming up with a racket in one hand and mobile phone in the other, as he sent a text.
It was a snapshot of why Kyrgios is so fascinating to tennis lovers who are captivated by his eccentricities, while we all know he possesses a natural talent to match anyone in the game on his day.
His booming serve is one of the best in tennis, his shot-making is second to none and his entertainment rating is off the scales, yet it all counts for little as it is diluted by the flaws in his character that he openly admits hold him back in the sport.
Nick accepts he lacks the dedication, mental toughness and grit required to battle through two weeks of a Grand Slam event and emerge the other side as a winner.
Yet any time this 26-year-old walks onto a court, even those who are reluctant to admit they are tennis lovers are happy to confess they are fully engaged in the show on the rare occasion when he shows up to play.
Our sport will miss Kyrgios when he finally calls time on the part-time career that he openly admits could end at any point and even though he will never follow the code of conduct most adhere to, we should all embrace the Kyrgios show while it’s still on air.
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