17 January 2023

Nick Kyrgios: Is time running out for him to reach his full potential on the court?

| Tim Gavel
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Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios: a drawcard for tennis. Photo: Instagram.

It’s hard to avoid Nick Kyrgios these days. He is omnipresent in practically every form of media.

At the moment it’s hard to imagine his profile getting any bigger. Much of it is based on what he brings to the sport off the court as much as what he does on the court.

He went for coffee with his girlfriend in Sydney before heading to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open; that made the news.

The Netflix fly-on-the-wall documentary Break Point virtually dedicated the first episode to him.

His withdrawal from the Australian Open with a knee injury, 27 hours before he was due to play his first-round match against Romain Safiullin, was headline news.

He hasn’t even played a competitive match this year yet his withdrawal was massive news.

Nick Kyrgios

The pleasure and pain of Nick Kyrgios. Photo: File.

His exhibition hit with Novak Djokovic sold out within the hour.

Kyrgios’s withdrawal from the United Cup and the Adelaide International earlier this month with an ankle problem also created headlines.

He received more press coverage for not playing than most players on the tour are afforded when they win tournaments.

Whether he’s playing tennis or not, he is making news through his involvement in other sports.

His investment in the US Pickleball League was followed by the announcement of his involvement in the ownership of NBL team the Southeast Melbourne Phoenix. A long-time Boston Celtics fan, Kyrgios has joined a Phoenix ownership group, which includes several former NBA players.

But back to tennis and his withdrawal from the Australian Open. A number of followers of tennis have questioned his preparation for the tournament.

Last year things seemed to go his way as he cut a swathe through Wimbledon to make the final. His anti-establishment persona slotted in perfectly with those who believe the sport is too regimented and formatted. New followers of tennis have been generated through his approach to the sport.

But at 27 years of age, there is also hope that he hasn’t left it too late to reach his potential.

The circus that surrounds his matches often clouds the sheer magnificence of his ability.

It is why so many are emotionally invested in willing him to succeed.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios at Lyneham Tennis Centre. Photo: Tennis ACT.

S0me draw comparisons to Mark Philippoussis, who made the singles finals at the US Open and Wimbledon only to fall short at the last hurdle.

Like Kyrgios, there were times when Philippoussis’ life off the court, in the eyes of the casual follower of the sport, was more appealing.

Kyrgios, for his part, impresses with his desire to ensure fans get their money’s worth with a goal of providing a sideshow as well as a great game of tennis.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios brings a new generation of tennis fans to the court. Photo: Instagram.

This is why many critics have come around. There is a realisation that tennis probably needs Nick Kyrgios more than he needs the sport.

And this is why, despite his withdrawal before hitting a ball in anger at this year’s Australian Open, we will still be talking about him as others progress through the tournament.

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I had thought with the amount of coverage that is was the Kyrgios Open down in Melbourne. Never mind, at 27 he has a limited time now. He can always play on in well paid exhibitions for those who are interested in seeing him.

Capital Retro8:13 am 18 Jan 23

I hope so.

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