Nick Kyrgios: My Opinion
After storming to a second ATP title of 2019, in a week which he described as one of the ‘favourite weeks of [his] life” and a week that saw him beat two top 10 players in the form of Stefnos Tstitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, the whole tennis world has started to talk about Nick Kyrgios again. Is he offering something new, or just a “brat”? Can he really play consistent tennis, or is he just a one hit wonder? But most importantly, is he good for the game, or is he a bad role model?
Answering these questions becomes more difficult every week, as Kyrgios’ behaviour can change drastically in the blink of an eye. After being beaten by Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon in a match that was entertaining but generally played in bad spirit, Kyrgios was at a low point in his career, dropping down to 52 in the world rankings and coming out of his favoured grass court season with just 2 match wins. However, this week Kyrgios was simply unstoppable and played brilliant tennis, as well as keeping his cool on the whole and providing excellent entertainment in the form of interactions with the crowd and opponents, some spectacular trick shots and some uncharacteristic fighting spirit.
Many people dislike Kyrgios’ racket smashing, his arguments with the umpire and many seehis use of shots as disrespectful, namely the underarm serve. But can it truly be said that Nick Kyrgios is the only one who does any of these things? All you need to do is to Google Victor Troicki, Novak Djokovic, Fernando Gonzalez or even John McEnroe to find players displaying frustration on the court like Kyrgios does. Yet, Kyrgios is seen as a controversial figure who some describe as having no respect, while people are largely happy to forgive the behaviour of somebody like Novak Djokovic, who most recently was accused of using his power over officials to force delays in his French Open semi-final against Dominic Thiem at convenient junctures for himself, including when he was 1-4 40-40 down in the fifth set. Djokovic is also a serial breaker of tennis rackets, just like Kyrgios.
And the underarm serve? Well, this recently has become a trend among tennis players, with the likes of other Top 100 players such as Alexander Bublik and Pierre-Hugues Herbert also utilising the tactic this year. It was most famously used in the 1989 French Open final by Michael Chang, who went on to win the match and the respect of the tennis world. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with tactically using an underarm serve against a player who stands very far back to return a serve. If people applaud a good dropshot, why does an underarm serve get booed when the tactic is virtually the same – to take advantage of an opponent’s deep court position?
In terms of whether Kyrgios is good for the game, the facts speak for themselves. He is great to watch and any match involving him is entertaining, regardless of the opponent. Even those who claim to dislike Kyrgios sit down and watch him, because you simply can’t take your eyes off him. He fills stadiums for every match he takes part in. For his opening match at Queen’s this year against Roberto Carballes-Baena, queues to get a look at court two stretched around corners because of the anticipation that Kyrgios brings. The ATP takes advantage of the enigma that is Nick Kyrgios too, constantly uploading videos of his trickshots or jokes onto their social media pages. He gets tennis into the newspapers and online sports pages that would only ever talk about football or rugby. The simple fact is that everybody knows who Kyrgios is, which is obviously good for the game. Sports thrive on familiar faces and when Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are gone, people like Kyrgios have got to be there to fill the void.
So, as we come to the end of this piece, I’d also like to point out that there are plenty of different types of tennis players around. You have fiery types like Kyrgios, people like Dominic Thiem, whose on court behaviour and contribution to the clean up of the world’s oceans make him more or less a perfect role model, all round nice guys like Juan Martin del Potro and legends of the game like Roger Federer. Variety like this is what makes our sport watchable. Without it, all tennis would look the same and become boring very quickly. If we shoot down players like Kyrgios for being different, then what hope does tennis have going forward?
Written by Emre Saridogan