An immensely talented 21 year old tennis player has always managed to steal the spotlight even in the most banal times and for all the wrong reasons. His ability is often overshadowed by the stacking controversies which always find an expressway to the Kyrgios-land. Let us take a good hard look at the curious case of Nick Kyrgios !
Nicholas “Nick” Kyrgios is a young Australian professional tennis player who started to accomplish from a very young age. He reached juniors rank 1 and won the Australian Open 2013. After turning pro in 2012, he worked harder and pushed himself to get better.
It wasn’t until his wildcard entry to the 2014 Wimbledon did he find his momentum. He defeated Stephane Robert, Richard Gasquet and Jiri Vesely before going on to have his momentous victory over Rafael Nadal. The world saw the enormous potential in this young soul. The other time he reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal was 2015 Australian Open and thus became the first teenage male to reach two Grand Slam quarterfinals since Federer in 2001.
The year 2016 brought him more success. He reached his career highest ranking of world number 13. He achieved three titles at Tokyo, Atlanta and Marseille. He also defeated many of the ATP top 10 ranking players.
Time and again he showed that he is dedicated and fearless with his dominant and aggressive play. He has a strong and accurate playing style. It is an absolute treat to watch such a young player until he gets sucked in the vortex of self-destruction and ego.
Kyrgios is notorious for his temper, meltdowns and loud mouth. He is not someone who can escape a juicy controversy. Reportedly, he has verbally abused his opponents, been in heated arguments with the umpires and lashed out during matches. It is true that many other players have had their fair share of outbursts on the playing, whether it is Goran Ivanisevic with his temper or Lleyton Hewitt with his flair, but being least bit contrite over his actions isn’t the way to go.
The most shocking incident was when he insulted Stan Wawrinka during the 2015 Rogers Cup. He made an inappropriate comment about his girlfriend. Such conduct is against the nature of sportsmanship and frankly unacceptable. Such slandering is unbecoming of a professional player. “Age is not an excuse, it’s about respect” said Nadal about this incident. “He was wrong”. There is line and Kyrgios just waltzed across it.
During the second round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters in 2016 after engaging with an argument with a fan, he ‘tanked’ his match against Mischa Zverev. Tanking means when a player purposely sabotages the match and not play to the best of his ability. The mercurial Australian was fined the maximum $10,000 for showing a ”lack of best efforts” in the match, $5,000 for verbal abuse of a spectator, and $1,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct. In addition to that, Kyrgios was handed an eight-week suspension for his ”conduct contrary to the integrity of the game”. Kyrgios was the first player to be suspended for bad behavior since John McEnroe in 1987.
This wasn’t his first attempt at tanking a match. At 2015 Wimbledon, he evidently tanked his match against Richard Gasquet. He did not put in any effort in this fourth round of the Championship. This unprofessional behavior aligns with his casual and whimsical nature which erupts like a volcano on-court.
In 2017 Australian Open, we got to see yet another one of his flimsiest performances in the second round match against Andreas Seppi. “Disappointment would be an understatement in describing Kyrgios’s effort. He threw the second set away. It was inexplicable” said McEnroe after he tanked.
If you are a particularly empathetic person, you may ask, ‘so what should a player do if the umpire isn’t being fair or the audience isn’t cooperating? He just reacted.’ There are definitely better ways of handling such situations and it has been done many times before by other players. When the stakes are high it is important for players to step back and take a hard look at themselves. Kyrgios without a doubt needs to tranquilize his demons.
Players spend a lot of time of the year touring together which makes it necessary for them to have a good dynamic with each other. When the cloud of animosity looms between the players it would only make the experience bitter and awkward. Good relationship starts with good conduct on and off court.
It isn’t enough to be a good player, you also need to be a good human being. This needs to be taught to this young man by his coach. At this stage he desperately needs a strong coach to steer him in the right direction and away from his unnecessary jumping into the quicksand called his whim. He needs to be taught resilience and discipline in order for him to stay in the game. He has to learn respect, respect other players and respect the game. Only after this arduous process would he be able to reach his full potential become the world no 1 player that we all know he can.