Almanac Tennis: Just what do we make of Nick Kyrgios?




The enigma that is Nick Kyrgios was on display again last night at the Australian Open – arguing with the umpire about dubious let calls, a temper simmering on the volcanic, sublime skills, a depth of resolve seen not often enough, and so on. Regardless, the volume of support from spectators was cacophonous.


But, somehow, after saving two match points in the fourth set, he prevailed over a most worthy opponent in Ugo Humbert who, in many ways, didn’t deserve to lose but who, in the critical moments, couldn’t crack the Aussie.


Read The Guardian’s take on the match here.


For years we’ve been asking the question borrowed and adjusted from The Sound of Music, ‘What do we do with a problem like Nick Kyrgios?’ There’s bad boy Nick, brat Nick, Nick the stirrer (think Novak Djokovic), compassionate Nick (think last year’s bushfires), exceptionally talented Nick, erratic Nick, boorish Nick, etc, etc.


Today, let’s change the question around just a little to, ‘What do you think of this enigma called Nick Kyrgios’?


Let’s know your thoughts below.


Meanwhile, in another result from yesterday, Bernard Tomic did little to advance his reputation with a questionable effort as he succumbed in straight sets to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.



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  1. Matches like last night’s demonstrate that Nick does have ‘the goods’ both technically and mentally to make the grade. But there’s more than a little doubt about his capacity to achieve consistency both on and off the court. If and when that happens, who knows what he might be capable of achieving. Or is he simply a product of his generation?

    From another perspective, in an age of the automaton sportsperson, perhaps we should appreciate Nick’s willingness to be his own person, even if we don’t like some aspects of what that means. At least it would be authentic.

    Maybe it’s all about what we’re looking for in modern day sport – the actual sport and its skills and wonders, the players and their personalities, entertainment, the business of the production (ie, making money), or whatever.

    In the end, I see Nick’s exceptional talent but I despair over his fluctuating application both on and off the court. I find it hard to like Nick; it’s easy to love Ash; Bernard seems a lost cause.

  2. Well said Ian. Like many of us i tired of Nick’s behaviours a few years back, but during the pandemic he’s come across as voice of reason. Is he another Andre Agassi? Agassi was a brash, verbose, youngster who could play wonderful tennis but came across to many as a Flog.

    He seemed to lose his way on the tennis court for a few years, his ranking tumbled, it seemed his bright star had blazed too early, but he returned a better, wiser player who scaled the tennis heights. Can (hopefully) Nick do the same?

    Bernard who?

  3. A great piece.

    I love the bastard! Colour, verve and personality. And gets up the stuffed shirts. Totally flawed, but, in an age of robots, I find that gold.

    As a kid I remember hating Connors. etc, for being loud and brash. Then, as I got older, I realised they were the only ones making me feel. Nick is always being himself. Even when making me cringe, or shout at the telly telling him to hold it together or pull his head in! He gets me barracking.

    That is rare and wonderful.

  4. Tennis Analyst says

    Kyrgios needs to have manners on the court. How dare Kyrgios have the audacity to tell off the female Serbian umpire in round 2 that she is ruining the game when she adjusted the automated let cord machine? Kyrgios needs a better backhand, better volleys, better movement around the court and a better return of serve, as well as a much better mental attitude and less injuries to win a Grand Slam singles title. Having said that, I was fortunate to be in the crowd at John Cain Arena and enjoyed the Kyrgios v Thiem match for its atmosphere and quality of tennis.
    Kyrgios must also learn to win Grand Slam singles matches without working the crowd in order to help him over the line, although he still lost to Thiem.
    I hope I’m wrong but I honestly cannot see Kyrgios winning a Grand Slam singles title in his career. He reminds me of Mark Phillipoussis, who like Kyrgios, did not win a Grand Slam singles title but still made 2 Grand Slam singles finals and won a Davis Cup title for Australia. However, Kyrgios is yet to make any Grand Slam singles finals or win a Davis Cup. Like Kyrgios, Phillipoussis didn’t work hard enough and was a bit of a playboy, like Kyrgios and Tomic.
    Like Matt, I hated Jimmy Connors when I was growing up but I happened to be a massive John McEnroe fan. You Cannot Be Serious, but I am serious about McEnroe, whose game I enjoyed watching.
    I saw Bernard Tomic playing close up as a 16 year old in a challenger tournament, which he won in Bentleigh in Melbourne, so I have always had a soft spot for Tomic. It’s a great shame he has never lived up to his potential, apart from a Wimbledon quarter final berth in 2011.
    I hope Kyrgios does eventually win a Grand Slam singles title because I like to see tennis players live up to their full potential.

  5. Kyrgiosmania says

    The problem for Nick Kyrgios is that he plays his best tennis matches in best of 3 matches, as opposed to best of 5 matches, which is why he will probably never win a Grand Slam singles title. The exception of course was when he beat Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014 as a 19 year old. However, Nadal has had the wood on Kyrgios since that match.

    Kyrgios was brilliant in beating Djokovic twice in 2 best of 3 matches a few years ago. Kyrgios has also beaten many top 10 players in best of 3 sets. He tends to save his best tennis against the best players, which is ego driven, as he can easily lose to a player ranked 200 or lower.

    As an expert tennis commentator once said, “Imagine how good Nick Kyrgios could be if he just practiced for 15 minutes every day!”

    Unfortunately, Nick Kyrgios is more interested in being a showman than a great tennis player. Many of his past injuries were avoidable if he had looked after his body and fitness properly.

    I think Kyrgios would rather make money from tennis playing mainly in Australia and exhibition events, as well as team environments like the ATP Cup and Davis Cup. He enjoys playing in the United States, where the American crowds can relate to him. He likes Wimbledon too. Of course, he is making the most money from his endorsements and ever growing television commercials.

    He has been quoted previously as saying that he wishes there were more ATP events in Australia is too far from Europe and the USA and he does get homesick a fair bit.

    As good as Alex Di Minaur and John Millman are with their work ethic, they should not be Australia’s top 2 ranked players. On talent alone, it should be Nick Kyrgios, Thansasi Kokkanakis and Bernard Tomic as Australia’s highest ranked players. Unfortunately, talent only gets you so far. You need work ethic to go with talent, which is why both Rafa Nadal has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles and Novak Djokovic has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles so far. You also need luck with injuries too but a good training routine can help prevent some injuries.

    It’s not too late for Nick Kyrgios to win a Grand Slam singles title, but it’s getting late. As Federer said a few years ago, it’s up to Nick Kyrgios himself whether he wants to put in the work required to achieve this.

    Come on Nick Kyrgios, and to quote the late and great Hawthorn coach John Kennedy, “Don’t think, Don’t hope, Do!”

  6. It’s Just Not Tennis says

    I urge everyone to read, if you haven’t already, the article in The Age by Alan Atwood, titled “Night out with fist-pumping Nickheads”.

    I completely agree with that brilliant article by Alan Atwood.

    Shame on you Nick Kyrgios and shame on you and shame on you the Nickheads.

    Another brilliant letter in The Age today in the Comment section, regarding Nick Kyrgios, was the following:

    It’s titled “The True Ugly Australians”:

    “I attended the Nick Kyrgios tennis match on Friday night and left after two sets because the crowd’s behaviour was so appalling and disturbing. The ugly Aussie male was in force, fists pumping, yelling out abusive comments during points, applauding Dominic Thiem’s errors. I felt like I was among a Trump cult crowd. Thank goodness Thiem won, restoring dignity and graciousness to the Australian Open”.

  7. I grew up playing tennis and besides the comment about cheering for faults (I too can’t go for that) I can’t agree with much at all of what ‘It’s just not tennis’ said. I’m in your camp, Old Dog – he makes you feel! I don’t love everything about him, but I like much more than I hate; especially since he’s started to reflect upon his own insecurities/mental hurdles and shared that with us.

    For the interests of balance, once you read The Age piece aimed at the ‘cucumber sandwich set’ (lifted from Richard Hinds’ comments) maybe check out the ’18 reasons to love Nick Kyrgios’ thread on Twitter or read the latest piece in the Saturday Paper on him.

  8. Nick Kyrgios plays tennis for his own enjoyment. Not for titles and grand slams. He lifts for opponents he respects like Federer and Nadal. He struggles against journeymen and relentless grinders he despises.
    He doesn’t flaunt and waste his talent on an ongoing basis like Tomic, he just chooses how often and when he exercises it. He’s Marilyn Monroe not Meryl Streep. He doesn’t win Oscars but he’s still worth watching.

  9. Mark me down as a fan of Kyrgios. Always have been.
    He will never win a grand slam, but ah well.
    He will just have to settle for being the most outrageously talented player this country has produced.

  10. Wanted Thiem to win from the outset. Aussie crowd deplorable – an embarrassment! Our man might be a great tennis player, but I simply don’t like him!

  11. I find much of the crowd that follow Nick extremely tiresome, yelling just to hear their own voices. Nick is extremely talented but supremely floored in attitude. Against Thiem he was serving to possibly get ahead in the 4th set and instead of tipping the ball back over the net with a normal shot he tried to play it between his legs. He lost that game and then the match. He seems to have little respect for anyone, particularly himself the way he persists with trick shots and underarm serves. It’s almost as though he deliberately sabotages himself.

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