As sure as night follows day, the Nine Network will be looking to extract as much as humanly possible out of local players to ramp up its coverage of the Australian Tennis Open which gets underway in late January.
And that can only mean one thing: over-the-top promotion of every move made by Canberra’s Nick Kyrgios. I say ‘Canberra’ with a cautious tone, as the Australian Open website lists Kyrgios’s place of residence as Nassau, Bahamas.
Nonetheless, it will be a Kyrgios-athon in the lead-up to the Australian major starting on 20 January.
Even though Alex de Minaur is Australia’s top-ranked player, Nine and the Australian Open will promote Kyrgios as the saviour: the one to finally win the men’s singles at the Open. It’s been a long drought. The last to do it was Mark Edmondson in 1976, almost 20 years before Kyrgios was born.
There will be anticipation that he will lose his temper, shout at his player’s box, the umpire, errant spectators, and often all within the one moment of play. If nothing else, it endears him to a generation of tennis fans looking for involvement in matches. Kyrgios definitely provides that!
Anticipation will be heightened in the lead up to the 2020 Open with a 16-week suspension hanging over his head if he transgresses. He is currently on a six-month probation arising from the Masters in Cincinnati. That probation period carries through to the Australian Open.
The question no doubt will be asked to a nauseating degree: will he be the same player without the temper tantrums, which appear to spur him on? John Newcombe has suggested Kyrgios needs to “learn to zip it”.
Whether he takes that advice on board will become evident soon enough.
Kyrgios has the talent, having won both the Mexican and Washington Opens in 2019. At the Mexican Open in Acapulco he accounted for Rafael Nadal on the way to winning the tournament.
He has beaten the top players: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. In the process, he’s earned over $8 million in prize money, and that figure is no doubt dwarfed by endorsements.
With the promotion about to be afforded Kyrgios by Nine and the Australian Open itself, the lines will be lengthy to watch him play, as they were last year, only to see him eliminated in the first round. They will be at least hoping for a repeat of 2015 when he made the quarter-final.
The public condemnation, which seems to follow his behavioural issues, will be largely forgotten for at least two weeks if he is successful in Melbourne.
Nine and the Australian Open to a certain extent are banking on it.
My comment: I can’t wait to see Ash Barty play!