Nick Kyrgios reminded us what a co-commentator should do at the Australian Open

Nick Kyrgios off court

Tradition is not a word that has been placed next to the name of tennis rebel Nick Kyrgios over the years, but his second tennis career started in a manner that made it entirely apt.

News that the maverick of Australian tennis would be on the commentary box for Eurosport and discovery+’s presentation of the first Grand Slam of the year ensured there was anticipation for what he would offer.

What came next was a triumph as this controversial and often uncontrollable maverick shone radiantly with a headset pinned to his ears.

The input of Kyrgios was widely acclaimed during the first major of 2024 and there are a few reasons why his transition from the court to the commentary box was such an instant hit.

For starters, the broadcast team behind this masterful move made a shrewd decision to position the experienced and classy Nick Lester next to Kyrgios as they started an irresistable double act.

There were some teething issues as during the first couple of days in Melbourne, Kyrgios didn’t get the memo that he needed to shut up when the points were being played, as he spent too much time reflecting on his favourite topic (himself!) rather than commenting on the match in front of him.

To his credit, the notoriously challenging star found his rhythm quickly and with the immaculately professional Lester drawing the best from him, the commentary of the evening sessions on Rod Laver Arena quickly became as compelling as the matches on the court.

A big factor behind this compelling broadcasting masterclass was the energy Kyrgios provided and, most significantly, the insight only someone with his unique experience could provide.

This is what commentary should be and sadly, it is the kind of content broadcasters have stepped away from in recent years as they have pursued alternative agendas.

Traditionally, the lead commentator guides the audience through the sporting event they are witnessing, with a Grand Slam likely to draw in viewers who are not tennis experts.

Lester’s calm and charming approach ticked that box time and again, as he explained what was happening on the court in a sensitive and he was also a master of bringing Kyrgios in at the perfect moment.

Viewers then want a co-commentator to take them behind the story they are looking at and all too often in recent years, this brand of first-person insight has been removed from our screens.

Not before time, Kyrgios offered a timely reminder of what we have been missing.

A Grand Slam finalist at Wimbledon as recently as 2022, Kyrgios has competed against almost every player he commentated on at the Australian Open and that allowed him to provide a unique perspective with his analysis.

This witty and cheeky analyst could inform the viewer what it felt like to face Djokovic in full flight and allowed us to understand the mental toughness required to beat him at a Grand Slam.

He could tell us about his first meetings with eventual champion Jannik Sinner and explain how he has matured into a player capable of winning a Grand Slam title.

READ MORE: Jannik Sinner could knock Novak Djokovic off world No 1 spot after Australian Open win

His analysis of points gave us all new information that added to our viewing experience and the stories about his own colourful career added to a mix that was intoxicating to watch.

Kyrgios even served up his first post-match on-court interview with Djokovic, as the chemistry between the two created another moment of TV gold.

We had his memories of a trip to train with Roger Federer in Switzerland when he was a kid and his comical annoyance that the Swiss great ‘only’ booked him into a three-star hotel with dodgy wi-fi.

There was also his confession that he believed Daniil Medvedev should give up tennis when he first played him at junior level, as he believed the Russian’s ‘terrible’ technique meant he had no chance of succeeding in the sport.

Only a player who has operated at the top level of the game as recently as Kyrgios can offer such detailed contributions and he did it all in a manner that will engage with a younger audience that have rarely been catered for with the familiar band of veteran tennis commentators.

Broadcasters have missed the mark with the direction they have followed with some of their commentary and pundit hires in recent years an what Kyrgios did at the Australian Open wass remind decision makers, more importantly, the audience about what cutting-edge insight can bring to a TV experience.

Tim Henman and Mats Wilander also provided outstanding analysis in the Eurosport studio in London, while Barbara Schett and Laura Robson were classy contributors on-site in Melbourne.

Yet Kyrgios would not be happy unless he was the star of the show and on this occasion, he most certainly achieved that aim.

There have been times when Kyrgios has brought tennis into disrepute with his behaviour on and off the court, but his greatest gift to the sport may come in this second phase of his career.

While he continues to suggest he is ready to make a comeback to tennis, a thriving new Kyrgios industry that includes podcasts and sponsorship deals means his eagerness to overcome his injuries and play again may soon wane.

After his sparking performances in the commentary box at the Australian Open, Kyrgios has given himself a hint about what he should do next and while we would miss him on the court if he has struck his final ball in anger, everyone wants more of him behind the microphone.

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