Nick Kyrgios is now a household name in the tennis world. He is known for his unbelievable talent, potential, and his explosive personality.
His First Breakout
Kyrgios stormed onto the scene at Wimbledon 2014 where he made it to the quarterfinals by upsetting #1 seed Rafael Nadal in the 4th round. At just 19 years old he was breaking out as a future star in men’s tennis. The next year he made it to the QFs of his home Australian Open. At this point, Kyrgios was seen as the future of Australian tennis. Since 2015 though, his results and effort have been inconsistent, to put it mildly. 2017 was his worst year for major results since 2014. While he has elevated his game to where he has beaten Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer and won 3 titles (Japan, Atlanta, Marseille) – the good results have come with plenty of bad results and lazy performances. He has been heavily scrutinized by the tennis media over his apparent throwing of matches, explosive temper, and inconsistent results. He was also suspended by the ATP for the remainder of the 2016 season after throwing a match vs. Mischa Zverev Shanghai (a week after winning his first ever title in Beijing). Critics shake their head wondering why he can’t utilize his world-class talent to be a more consistent player.
“It’s not a matter of if Kyrgios will find consistency, but when.”
The media is like a controlling parent who puts too much pressure on their kids to act perfectly. Kyrgios has cited the passing of family members as a reason for his wavering commitment to the game of late. In his article “The Battle Raging Inside of Me” on The Players Voice, he states that tennis kept him away from spending invaluable time with his grandmother before she passed. Regret, resentment, and anger towards tennis and the life Kyrgios has been thrust into are obvious factors that would affect anyone’s game. It seems like Kyrgios is a 22-year-old who is trying to make sense of the craziness of work and life like any other 22-year-old out there. The microscope he lives under which makes his actions look abnormal is a classic case of the celebrity double standard. Holding Kyrgios to the standard of world-class professional while most other22-year-olds are joking their way through party obsessed college years seems ridiculous.
His Next Breakout
Kyrgios is poised for a second breakout because he has had years now to try and figure out a tennis/life balance. Even though his results are still inconsistent with a 1st round exit at the US Open after being a finalist in Cincinnati, he seems to be taking the right steps to fit tennis into his life in a healthy way. He started a foundation in Australia for underprivileged kids to be able to access sport. This type of venture will mend some of the wounds he has from tennis and show him that his efforts are valuable to more than just himself. His involvement in the recent Laver Cup was also great for his relationship with tennis. The team atmosphere of that tournament should help him feel more connected to the tour.
During the Cincinnati Masters 1000, it was clear that Kyrgios has more crowd support than he used to – and he responds positively to that. As he figures out how to be more mentally consistent – like people usually do as they leave their teenage years – his crowd support and playing level will increase simultaneously. He is already a naturally likable and charismatic guy and he feeds off crowd support which has been sparse thus far in his career.
Kyrgios has the competitive fire to take him as far as his composure will allow. His talent and physique give him unlimited potential and he is going to become one of the best players for the next decade as he matures as a professional.
Kyrgios will continue to break the mold of the typical tennis player. If we as the media give this 22-year-old a chance to figure his life out at his own pace we will have a great view of his rise to tennis dominance. It’s not a matter of if Kyrgios will find consistency, but when.