TENNIS has always been considered a gentleman’s game. It is famous for its sportsmanship and etiquette, with champions including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic textbook role models for the sport. Those three along with Andy Murray are the perfect example of ‘gentlemen’ who dominate the current circuit. Yet while these men continue to be polite and enjoy their tea with their pinkies raised further solidifying the gentlemen role, the future of tennis continues to cause a scene raising his middle finger in the air while downing a Red Bull.
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NICK Kyrgios is easy to pigeonhole as public enemy number one whenever he’s on the court. The brash, fiery Australian has had his fair share of headlines since joining the ATP professional fraternity, both good and bad, but mainly bad. His track record of failures, outbursts and tantrums outweigh any real success he has had as a professional athlete. From slandering opponents girlfriends to tanking allegations, mixed in with the copious boo’s from the crowd, Kyrgios continues to garner attention from fans globally. It’s somewhat frustrating to see such a young superstar behave ‘childish’, but who really cares? He is still so young and if he wants to behave like a brat as he tears through opponents then let him. Although the sport has an image to uphold, and by no means am I condoning everything he has done, a player like Kyrgios draws in fans from different areas that others such as Federer and Djokovic can’t. I can guarantee you the ‘box office’ showing that is a Kyrgios match will sell more tickets if he continues to operate with the same demeanour.
A large part of the reason Kyrgios seems so universally hated is due to his lack of success to date. He posses a 26-15 win/loss record in Grand Slam singles to date and has just three career titles to his name. What everyone tends to forget is that Nick Kyrgios is 21 years old. TWENTY ONE! At 21 I was spilling kebab sauce on my shirt walking home from nightclubs, this dude is out playing three-hour epics against the greatest tennis player to ever play in Roger Federer. That three-hour epic I refer to was Kyrgios’ latest game in the Miami Open semi-final which he lost to Federer 7-6 (11-9) 6-7 (11-9) 7-6 (7-5). But like any good Kyrgios match, there was controversy. Kyrgios was booed by the crowd as he went to rest in his seat during the break between sets as the pumped-up crowd sided with Federer. Late in the first set, the chair umpire even called out to the crowd reminding them to “please show good sportsmanship to both players”. Straight after that warning, a spectator heckled Kyrgios while he was preparing to serve, forcing him to blow up at the spectator yelling to “shut up”. His Federer game could almost summarise Kyrgios’ career to date in a nutshell. That exchange with the crowd mixed with this tweener below highlights the two sever extremes of the Aussie.
WITH the right guidance and motivation Kyrgios has the talent that could see him ranked No.1 in the world. His ranking has climbed exponentially every year and currently, he seems poised for a breakout 2017. Having already defeated Novak Djokovic (the men’s world No. 1) twice this season and taken it right up to Federer in their latest epic; his talent is undeniable. The kid creates a buzz whenever he is on the court, but tennis has long steered away from characters of his sort. John McEnroe was also a hot-headed outgoing personality who was surrounded by controversy and merciless criticism during his time as a tennis pro. He went on to be a seven-time Grand Slam singles champ and world No. 1 for 170 weeks in his career, more than Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi. If we look back in a few years time and see that Kyrgios has served numerous bans and is spiralling out of control I would be surprised. It could happen but someone so competitive, driven and focused and with that much Red Bull coursing through his veins is a wrecking ball destined for the top.
Editors Note: Nick Kyrgios is the 2nd youngest player in the ATP top 50 rankings behind 19-year-old Alexander Zverev (world No. 20).
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