Nick Kyrgios’ transformation from doubles artist to Grand Slam singles finalist is one of the most remarkable tennis stories of the year, but Australian fans could be excused a little caution before embracing his success at Wimbledon.
His response to Rafa Nadal’s withdrawal from their Wimbledon semi-final on Thursday was loaded with the kind of respect that defined the interaction between top players in this golden era of men’s tennis. “Different players, different personalities,” he posted on Instagram. “I hope your recovery is going well and we all hope to see you back in good health soon. See you next…”
However, Kyrgios’ long track record of deviating from the path of mutual respect has caused many Down Under to hold their breath and wait for the return of what a local newspaper dubbed ‘Nincompoop Nick’ this week. From on-court meltdowns, broken racquets, accusations of tanking and an infamous Stan Wawrinka sled to his regular abuse of referees, barely a tournament goes by without Kyrgios incurring the wrath of the administration .
Even on the march to his first Grand Slam singles final, there were two incidents deemed worthy of fines from the All England Club which left some of his countrymen embarrassed, others seething. He then learned he would face court next month in Canberra for simple assault on a former girlfriend.
‘MORE MATURE’ There’s never been any doubt about the 27-year-old’s talent, nor a shortage of theories as to why he’s never realized it before – both from the Kyrgios himself and media that reported on his career.
“I just feel like I’m more mature,” he said after his quarter-final win over Cristian Garín. “I think at the beginning of my career, if I made a third, a fourth or a quarter-final, I would be on my phone a lot, I would engage a lot online, I would want to go out to dinner…
“I feel like it’s literally as easy as resting. Like, ‘Nick, stay home. That hasn’t always been the easiest thing for me in my career.” Given the ups and downs of his career, it’s perhaps not too surprising that earlier this year Kyrgios had seemingly resigned himself to a career where he entertained in the early rounds of Grand Slam singles and aimed for the duplicate titles.
Partnering with friend Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Australian Open, “the Special Ks” drew raucous crowds and won a men’s doubles title that Kyrgios described as the “number one” achievement of his career. However, it was ultimately just a sideshow as Ash Barty ended the nation’s long wait for a singles title at Melbourne Park before retiring to nationwide cheers.
‘SAME GOAL’ Barty’s career was transformed when she built a team around her to deflect the pressure and it looks like Kyrgios may have taken a leaf from his book, although he still regularly berates his surroundings of the court.
“I think everyone has the same goal in my team, that’s why it works,” he said this week. “We all know what we came here to do. I let them know that I wanted to go far enough here and maybe even lift the trophy.”
If he manages to beat Novak Djokovic or Cam Norrie in Sunday’s final, it may be that winning tennis’ most prestigious title erases all his previous sins in the eyes of his compatriots. “I’ve softened up on Kyrgios,” columnist Darren Kane wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday.
“Not completely bother you (but) looking at things through any sort of lens, Kyrgios’ fiery misdeeds don’t really measure up on the atrocity meter.”
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)