27 January 2022

Has Canberra’s Nick Kyrgios finally found his true calling?

| Tim Gavel
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Nick Kyrgios

Compelling and entertaining, Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Tennis ACT.

The sight of fans queuing to watch a second-round doubles match along with television ratings going through the roof is surely evidence enough that a tennis revolution is taking place.

Nick Kyrgios, as the band-leader in his doubles combination with Thanasi Kokkinakis, has almost single-handedly pulled tennis into the mass entertainment market at the Australian Open.

Chest pumps, laps of honour, fans drinking from shoes … it is more akin to a mosh pit than the normally demure setting of a Grand Slam doubles match.

I must admit that normally I would not be drawn to watch doubles, but I couldn’t help but switch on the telly to see the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis combination in action.

Kyrgios, of course, has been heading down the path of being the number one entertainer on the tennis circuit for many years as a singles player.

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The entertainment value has often been through watching him self-destruct on court. It’s the ultimate in ‘fly on the wall’ reality television.

He’s not the first to take on tennis in this way. Who could forget John McEnroe? He, too, had the capacity to self-combust, making for uncomfortable but compelling viewing.

But Kyrgios’s doubles combination with Kokkinakis is different. There is a greater sense of enjoyment but with a similar foundation of entertainment as the central theme.

Mind you, not everybody is on-board, as was evident in the post-match interview with his second round singles opponent Daniil Medvedev who protested about the behaviour of the crowd. At times the crowd’s jeers resembled the response from the masses to ancient Roman gladiatorial munera at the Colosseum.

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You would imagine there are many with the mindset of Medvedev who are more accustomed to the time-honoured traditions of the game of tennis, including a silent and polite crowd.

Sport is facing an interesting period in which it is becoming harder to get people to events, given the television coverage and COVID restrictions.

Ash Barty aside, and it’s difficult not to be drawn in by her wonderful demeanour and talent, tennis, at times, can be robotic and devoid of personality.

Nick Kyrgios

Whatever you think of him, Nick Kyrgios has drawn a new audience to tennis. Nick Kyrgios at the Brisbane International 2019. Photo: File.

Kyrgios pointed out that tennis has done a poor job in accepting personalities in the past and had focused so much of its energy on marketing three players for the last decade – Federer, Nadal and Djokovic – and it has now caught up with them.

With his ranking currently around 115, Kyrgios has attracted as much attention over the past week as the likes of Nadal.

There have been times of frustration at his lack of application, particularly as he has a lot of obvious talent. But with this in mind, perhaps his real calling is as an entertainer.

There is a fine line, though, between tennis as entertainment, where games can resemble a rock concert, and the need to be fair and respectful of opponents and the game itself.

That said, I can’t wait for Wimbledon.

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The simple answer if you find his behaviour boorish and clownlike is to not watch him. I have restricted my watching sports/ teams with people who have large egos displaying childish behaviour such as the some NRL and AFL teams, (I am looking at you Penrith Panthers) 😉 , international cricketers (you could name a few here), some Australians playing sport overseas (not you Sam Kerr but some basketball players come to mind), overpaid professional golfers etc so as avoid the angst of wasting my time. Some of these people (no matter how philanthropic people perceive these ‘legends’ to be) tend to believe that their sporting prowess gives them the ability to behave how they like. Good luck to them. I won’t be watching them nor do I care. Not that anyone cares but some people are turned off by this. Only their ‘disciples’ who have a similar mind set that fun has to be at the expense of other people and their disciples’ right to be a nuisance come to the defence of their Icon. As for Nick, he will either tone it down and decide what he really wants to achieve in life or eventually burn himself out trying to amuse his current ‘zoo’. This too will pass.

Poster boy for the ‘it’s all about ME’ generation.

He is great for the game… work in progress, yes, but does anyone remember a doubles match that exciting and entertaining?

Remember why they are professional sports players – to entertain you… pure and simple.

Are the same haters here also talking about McEnroe? No? Why? – people watched because he has a personality and is entertaining… Nick got it spot on when he states that Tennis needs personalities and the top three are tapioca…….

Bring it on I say – they are there to entertain me, nothing else brings in the money…. He should also take up lawn bowls – that needs sprucing up!

Good on you Nick! I have never met Nick but he is a man who walks the talk! To Grace Capz and all of you armchair knockers out there who probably wouldn’t do anything for anyone, Nick does a tremendous amount of work for charity and underprivileged kids. We need more people like Nick and I am proud he is a Canberran. If I ever see you Nick I will go and shake your hand!

Capital Retro6:34 pm 26 Jan 22

The only calling has been from officials when he swears, abuses line judges and umpires.

I don’t see him changing but if he does I’ll start watching tennis again. I hope advertisers are getting this.

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