Inside story on how Nick Kyrgios became a commentary star at the Australian Open
Nick Kyrgios made a big splash at the Australian Open without hitting a ball in anger and part of his success in the commentary box can go to his sidekick Nick Lester.
The ‘Nick and Nick’ double act on Eurosport and discovery+ made for compelling viewing, as the 2022 Wimbledon finalist offered up his verdicts on matches in a style all of his own.
While he has never lacked anything in the confidence stakes, Kyrgios needed some help as he found his feet as a commentator and that is where the experienced Lester made his mark.
Now Lester has given Tennis365 the inside story on a double act that was thrown together in double quick time and proved to be a huge hit with viewers.
HOW DID YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH KYRGIOS COME TOGETHER?
I didn’t know Nick too well before we started working together. I met him at the World Tennis League in Dubai in just before Christmas 2022. I was commentating on that event, but I wouldn’t say I knew him well before this. I got a call from Eurosport a week before Christmas to say they had made a big signing and they needed someone to commentate on-site and as I was already there, so that’s how it all came about.
DID YOU NEED TO GIVE KYRGIOS ANY ADVICE?
Not really. The golden rule of tennis commentary is not to talk during the points and Nick worked it out pretty quickly. What he was saying was interesting and as I’m sure he was being well paid to do the job, it was my job to get the best out of him. From the reaction we have had during and after the event, it seems like it worked out well. With him, it was always going to be quite raw, but the reason why it worked so well is he was just himself.
— Eurosport (@eurosport) January 24, 2024
DID YOU MODIFY YOUR OWN STYLE OF COMMENTARY TO MAKE SURE THE AUDIENCE GOT MORE FROM KYRGIOS?
I know the audience wants to hear from him and my job is to try and extract as much good quality information from him. He has been a player, been on court against the guys he is commentating on. I needed to pick his brain and get as much as possible out of them.
READ MORE: Nick Kyrgios rejects Novak Djokovic-Michael Jordan comparison as he likens Serb to different sporting icon
WHAT WAS THE SECRET BEHIND THE SUCCESS OF KYRGIOS THE COMMENTATOR?
A lot of ex-players are put into a commentary box and they are not given much guidance. It is sink or swim. One of the most engaging parts of listening to Nick is there was no filter. What we were hearing from Nick Kyrgios saying it as it was and not caring what anyone thought. That’s what made it so nice to listen to. He wasn’t afraid of upsetting anybody. He was talking as he would have done without headphones and that was the nicest part of working for him. Also, there are not too many current players who have played against the top guys in the game today working in commentary and that’s why Nick had something new to offer.
WERE YOU SURPRISED HOW WELL IT WORKED?
We got on really well. I think we just bonded and he respected me after a while of getting to know who I was. The best commentary is conversational without being evasive. I’ve always stuck to the mantra of less is more. The commentator needs to do what he can to add to the broadcast without taking over. He was a superb and down-to-earth guy and what people don’t realise about Nick is he is very intelligent. That doesn’t always come across when he is on court, but he is very bright. He also loves tennis and when we did four-hour matches, he was engaged throughout. Without naming names, I’ve worked with some co-commentators who struggle to stay engaged for that long.
COULD KYRGIOS MAKE A COMEBACK ON COURT?
Absolutely. He admitted on commentary that he might struggle to get fit enough to live with the top guys in best-of-five-set matches, so it’s going to be tough for him. If he wants it badly enough, we know he can be a threat against anyone when he is at his best.
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