The Enigma That Is Nick Kyrigios
With wins over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, there is no question the amount of talent Australian player, Nick Kyrgios possesses. Tennis fans saw that talent come to full fruition recently when Nick won the biggest title of his career at the Rakuten Japan Open. However Kyrgios is still more known for his on court antics and defiant attitude than his is for his tennis.
After winning his first 500 title at the aforementioned tournament in Japan, Kyrgios had a meek exit at the Shanghai Masters tournament to the relatively unknown Mischa Zverev, 6-3 6-1. What was even worse than the strange loss was Kyrgios effort or lack thereof. Kyrgios appeared completely disinterested in playing and during one particular point Nick served a fluff of a serve and immediately began walking to his chair. It was no surprise that Kyrgios received a chorus of boos from an audience unimpressed with his play.
To make matters worse when Kyrgios was asked by reporters whether the fans deserved more than what he gave, Nick said that “he did owe them anything”. Nick continued by saying that if the fans were unsatisfied with his playing that they could have left. The ATP would go on to fine Nick $16,500 for what they believe was a “lack of effort”. But some tennis fans and tennis experts believe that was not enough.
Kyrgios actions in Shanghai were not isolated incidents. Nick has made quite the name for himself for his temper tantrums, outburst and nonchalant press conference interviews. If things aren’t going his way it is only a matter of time before Nick implodes, both on and off the court. It was Nick’s antics that led to Roger Federer memorably telling chair umpire at the Madrid Open in 2015 ”that you need a clown for this circus”. It was a humorous analysis by Roger for the events that were taking place on that day. But as these incidents began to become common in Kyrgios’ matches they became more alarming.
Perhaps the biggest error in judgment Kyrgios made was at the Rogers Cup in 2015. Nick was facing Swiss player Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round when the two got into a dispute over a play on the court. Being unhappy with Stan, Kyrgios said to himself out loud, which was picked up by the microphones on the court, an explicit exchange between Stan’s girlfriend Donna Vekic and compatriot and buddy to Nick, Thanasi Kokkinakis (both Vekic and Kokkinakis are professional tennis players). These statements caused a huge uproar and despite Kyrgios apologizing he was still fined $35,000, suspended for 28 days and put on six months’ probation.
After that ordeal, Nick vowed to change and put the spotlight on his tennis rather than his behavior but it has been a struggle. Though there is no doubt that Kyrgios provides charisma and youthful energy to the game. There are boundaries for how one acts and plays on the court and Nick has a hard time staying within them.
Retired Aussie players such as Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter have tried to mentor Nick and get him to focus on his impressive game and limit the outburst but it appears that those words have fallen on deaf ears. Even current players such as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have chimed in on Nick Kyrgios, praising his talents and potential but acknowledging his need for maturity.
This is by far Nick’s most successful year on tour. He has a careering high ranking of 14 and has taken home three titles, defeating top player in route to those championships. Yet he is on the verge of again having his poor behavior overshadowed his multi-dimensional game.
Upon receiving his latest fine for his actions in Shanghai, Nick apologized and reminded fans that he is a work in progress. For now fans will have to take his word but Nick runs the risk of sounding like a broken record (some may say he already has done so). Tennis fans can only hope that Nick finds a way to cut the drama and let his game speaks for himself. Everyone can agree once that happens the sky will be the limit for him.