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Is Nick Kyrgios the most polarising yet compelling figure in Australian sport?

Tim Gavel 10 July 2019 85
Nick Kyrgios - Brisbane International 2019

Nick Kyrgios seems to take pleasure in rocking the boat. File photo.

Everybody, it seems, has an opinion about Nick Kyrgios. He is either the most entertaining figure in a sport struggling for personalities, or he is a renegade with little respect for the traditions of tennis.

For good measure, the anti-Kyrgios brigade will also add a ‘wasted talent’, rivalling Mark Philippoussis and Bernard Tomic.

What isn’t up for debate is his attraction at the box office. Just ask Channel 7 who came under fire last week for showing Kyrgios ahead of women’s world number one, Australia’s Ash Barty. And what a star she is!

The large audience wanting to watch Krygios though indicates that he is a ratings magnet. So for everybody who says they will never watch him again, there are just as many attracted to watch his, at times, brilliant vaudeville-come-tragedy style of play.

But we can’t forget that his attraction is backed up by his success in majors with two quarterfinal appearances, which is the highest he has achieved, with the last being at the Australian Open in 2015.

There is a generation that perhaps see his personality as a reflection of their own rebellion towards conformity, while there are others of an older demographic who see his behaviour as a reflection of their concerns about the next generation.

At 24 years of age, Kyrgios seems to have settled on a persona that is part anti-hero, part entertainer, with tennis secondary to the former. In many respects, despite his antics on and off the court, there appears to be a certain amount of pleasure in rocking the boat, which at times is usually stationary.

His comments after the loss to Nadal at Wimbledon were telling; “I know what I am capable of; just depends. I’m a great tennis player, but I don’t do the other stuff. I’m not the most professional guy. I won’t train day-in-day-out. I won’t show up every day.”

The match, it has to be said, was one of the more outstanding I’ve viewed for a long time, as Kyrgios showed more than a glimpse of capabilities.

What followed in the press conference though, while highly entertaining, was troubling.

The concern I have with his comments is that it can be perceived as belittling those who are trying to do their best and put in maximum effort at all times. A little humility and empathy wouldn’t go astray.

In the eyes of some, he is perhaps the most honest tennis player on the circuit. Perhaps he is even considered the most honest sportsperson in professional sport. Hard to imagine too many in a professional team sport saying they may not show up every day. That’s not to say they don’t have off-days because they didn’t put in the effort.

So where to from here? Does he continue with the renegade approach, which shows no sign of affecting his marketing capabilities, or will he come to the realisation that he can be both an entertainer, and a Grand Slam winner?

Personally, I think Kyrgios needs a coach that he believes in, a coach who understands what Kyrgios wants out of life and can organise tennis to be a part of that.

Not that my opinion or anyone else’s has any bearing on what he is likely to do next. Perhaps that’s what’s so interesting about Kyrgios, we never quite know what’s in store!

Having beaten the likes of Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray he has shown his enormous talent but in the end, talent will only get you part of the way.

In the meantime, Kyrgios remains an enigma, likely to keep dividing the opinions of sports fans throughout the world.


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85 Responses to
Is Nick Kyrgios the most polarising yet compelling figure in Australian sport?
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9:02 am 10 Jul 19

Eminently ignorable.

9:01 am 10 Jul 19

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.

8:59 am 10 Jul 19

He’s an absolute disgrace to Australian sport.

Maybe needs to take a leaf out of Ash Bartys book.

She’s a true sports person.

    9:51 am 10 Jul 19

    Matt Baker Hmm rude and smart arse comes to mind laced with disrespect for all around him. We owe him ignorance nothing more.

8:41 am 10 Jul 19

Polarising? That implies that people are 50/50 on whether they love him or hate him. I think people who love tantrum-throwing brats are a niche market rather than half the population.

8:41 am 10 Jul 19

Nope, just a prize goose.

8:41 am 10 Jul 19

Another BIG head due to sports? Think they are better than the average person because they have money? Think they are better than most? I've had dealings with a couple "sports heroes" - they were the biggest jerks I think I've ever met.

    10:21 am 10 Jul 19

    Vickie Kibblewhite the thing is, some people are just jerks. They just happen to have a particular talent, but didn't really do anything to 'deserve' that talent.

    10:43 am 10 Jul 19

    Nathan Cooper without mentioning names - a few years ago I was helping out at a taxi base. I took a call that so and so wanted a cab to go from a to b. (so and so was a big name player in one of the NFL or AFL leagues). I informed him that it was a very busy night and there would be a 20 minute wait. He said that I must not have heard him - he gave his name again and said he wanted a car now. I said I realized that and there was still a 20 minute wait. He gave me his name again and said "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM" - yelling it at me and I said no - so he called me a few names and slammed the phone down.

8:38 am 10 Jul 19

I like him.

8:37 am 10 Jul 19

I thought enigmas had some depth...

John Moulis 8:31 am 10 Jul 19

I don’t know about him being polarising. I trained with him at Gold’s Gym in the early days of his career before I joined Club Lime and he seemed pleasant enough, but sometimes a bit brash for a youngster. The photographers around him all the time were a bit of a distraction but he was on point in the gym and seemed to be making his way in the sporting arena with help from us and Christos.

In recent times there has been bad publicity about his on-court behaviour but that is more for theatre than anything else. It is expected for a male tennis player. Bad on-court behaviour has never harmed anybody in the past – John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors being a case in point – and I believe we will be seeing the best of Nick in the foreseeable future.

8:24 am 10 Jul 19

Nothing compelling about him at all. He's best ignored.

8:23 am 10 Jul 19

He’s just young and stupid. Good on him.

8:07 am 10 Jul 19

Nick who?

    11:55 am 10 Jul 19

    Ash Pagett check out the NK foundation...

    2:24 pm 10 Jul 19

    Richard Pyye yeah see he'd probably get a lot more support if he wasn't carrying on like a goose everytime. Maybe instead of playing tennis for the kids he should have an attitude readjustment and shut his mouth for the kids🤷‍♂️

8:00 am 10 Jul 19

Maybe he could win a grand slam

8:00 am 10 Jul 19

Please do not identify him with Australia let alone Canberra.

7:52 am 10 Jul 19

He needs to deal with he's issues. Someone close to him passed away several years ago and since then his playing has gone down hill and his attitude sux. If he wants his game to change he needs to change his psychology.

7:47 am 10 Jul 19

He's not an enigma... I can think of a lot of other, more apt, descriptors

7:47 am 10 Jul 19

Ignore him and he will go away

7:43 am 10 Jul 19

He and Tomic need to go back and learn some manners and humility. They behave like spoilt brats and get away with it because they're "talented". It's not behaviour we would tolerate in any other workplace, why is it ok for them?

7:36 am 10 Jul 19

Not an enigma: more an entitled, spoilt brat.

7:18 am 10 Jul 19

He's not that compelling. I say lock him in a room with Bernard Tomic.

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