When does a loveable rogue become a dislikeable brat? Nick Kyrgios could be about to find out. Until now many people in tennis have been prepared to give the 20-year-old Australian the benefit of the doubt despite his many misdemeanours – on the basis that he brings some much-needed youthful vitality to the sport – but this latest incident may change opinions. Clashing with authority, whether in the shape of match officials or administrators, is one thing, but offending a fellow player – and a highly popular one at that in Stan Wawrinka – is on another level.
There is no doubt that Kyrgios has box-office appeal. With his sharp haircuts and colourful clothing, he clearly appeals to a younger audience. He has huge talent and plays in a way that keeps spectators on the edge of their seats. He has hit two of the most memorable shots of the last two summers: a through-the-legs winner from the baseline en route to his victory over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year and a stunning through-the-legs lob against Andy Murray at this year’s French Open.
For all the brilliant shot-making, however, Kyrgios has often offended, particularly with his on-court language. Of course he is not the first talented young tennis player to act like a brat. John McEnroe, who became one of those loveable rogues, sometimes behaved outrageously, though one of his saving graces was that he was also very successful. Kyrgios has yet to win a title.
Murray has been one of those prepared to cut Kyrgios some slack A word or two of advice from him might be just what Kyrgios needs at the moment. For the sake of tennis, which requires both new talent and “characters”, it is to be hoped that the Australian continues to develop as a player – but puts this unpleasant immaturity behind him.Reuse content