Caroline Garcia: A Lesson for Nick Kyrgios

From a young age, Caroline Garcia was expected to achieve big things. She reached Number 5 in the Junior Rankings and transitioned almost seamlessly into senior tennis thereafter. In 2011, at the age of just 17, she played her first 2 Grand Slams at the Australian Open and the French Open, making waves by winning matches at both tournaments. At the French Open, she played Maria Sharapova in the Second Round and, despite losing, turned a lot of heads with her impressive display, not least Andy Murray, who tweeted: “The girl Sharapova is playing is going to be number one in the world one day Caroline Garcia, what a player”. High praise indeed.

However, the attention that Garcia gained at such a young age had undesired consequences, putting too much pressure on her young shoulders. The weight of expectation became too much for her and despite reaching a Career High of 4 in the world in 2018, Garcia was unable to find the consistency required to remain at such a high level, and saw her ranking steadily decrease, to as low as 79 earlier this year.

Pressure was, of course, a bit part of this, a subject which Garcia has touched upon herself: “I had a lot of pressure, and I couldn’t deal with it because I wasn’t ready. But you can’t regret that kind of experience. It’s great that people talk about you in this way. They say you have potential, that you can accomplish things. And it’s probably better that people think like that rather than the other way!”

However, there were other factors involved with her decline. Parental involvement in coaching has proved to have mixed results in tennis, with the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev seemingly being held back by their parents after reaching a certain point in their careers. Garcia was coached by her father until 2021, who she has since replaced with Bertrand Perret, who has seemingly been able to instil belief in her once again, as well as encouraging her to be more aggressive and use her weapons, rather than just relying on her court coverage and variety. Perret also encouraged Garcia to be less hard on herself and tried to reign in her perfectionism, instead opting for more positive re-enforcement.

Garcia’s renewed attitude and application, along with some tactical adjustments have finally paid dividends this year, with some excellent results in the second half of the year. Garcia won the title in Cincinnati as a qualifier, before reaching the semi-finals of the US Open (totalling a 13-match win streak) and then ending her year by winning the WTA Finals. This impressive set of results saw Garcia return to 4 in the world rankings; she won more matches than any other player on tour post-June (even Iga Swiatek!!!) and recorded 8 Top-10 wins.

You may be asking yourselves what this has to do with Nick Kyrgios. Well, Garcia is living proof that by making certain changes related to one’s attitude and coaching team, it is possible to maximise your potential. Nick Kyrgios has the talent of a World-Number-One, but has a career-high of 13, reached back in 2016. Kyrgios has shown flashes of brilliance this year, reaching a Wimbledon final in Singles, and winning the Australian Open Men’s Doubles title alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis, but has certainly not fulfilled his potential yet.

Kyrgios has no permanent coach, does not play a full schedule (skipping almost half of the season this year), often loses his composure on court and doesn’t always train as much as his peers. In the past, Caroline Garcia has been accused of the same evils, but after making a few changes, has surged up the rankings from 79 to 4 in the space of 7 months. If Kyrgios takes notes, he may well do the same in 2023.