The showman was back at it at Wimbledon 2021, so here’s a look at Nick Kyrgios’ journey on the tennis court.
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Nick Kyrgios is one of tennis’ biggest box office players, but also one of the most controversial players on tour. His matches are never quiet. An impulsive player who always speaks his honest mind when he has the chance, while his talent and showboating on the court also add to his personality.
The Australian born player turned pro in 2013 and it was in the following year where he really stepped into the limelight. In 2014, World Number 144 and 19-year old Nick Kyrgios came up against World Number 1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon. Everyone expected it to be a routine victory for Rafa, and it was anything but. The Australian wildcard showed tremendous confidence and fearlessness to put on a show for the crowd at centre court. His powerful hitting, showmanship, decisive and impeccable serving saw him end the match with a ridiculous 70 winners and 37 aces. He went on to defeat the King of Clay in four sets and tennis players and fans across the world thought they were witnessing the day that would cement Kyrgios as the star of the next generation of tennis players. The great John McEnroe was full of praise for the Australian, “We’re watching a young boy turn into a man. We have a new star on our hands in the tennis world.”
After 2014 Wimbledon the only place Kyrgios could go was up, at least that’s what everyone thought. In 2015 the tennis world then got its first glimpse of the real Nick Kyrgios. In March he took on the universally loved Stanislas Wawrinka and during the match, passed an extremely sour comment about the Swiss star’s girlfriend, which caused Kyrgios to come under the firing line and pay a fine of ten thousand dollars. Two months later he was the centre of attention for much purer reasons this time, he defeated Roger Federer in the Madrid Masters, the first time Kyrgios played against his childhood hero. The next month had Wimbledon come around again, the Grand Slam which made Kyrgios, but this time it was a massive disaster for him. In the fourth round match his behaviour was poor again and he had multiple meltdowns over calls which went against him, swore at the umpire multiple times and then appeared to throw the match, losing in four sets and justifiably receiving severe criticism from fans, players and the crowd. This was the first time the tennis world started to realise that all the talent Kyrgios was blessed with may end up being futile, solely because of his impulsive behaviour.
From that year on what everyone feared turned out to be true. Every time Kyrgios seemed to be in the news, it was for all the wrong reasons. He obviously had his moments on the tennis court and gave us all glimpses of scintillating tennis, winning his maiden ATP title in Marseille, followed by Tokyo and Atlanta, all in 2016. A comparatively more impressive year than 2015, but his poor behaviour and problems with authority seemed to outweigh all his glory.
In the years post 2016, Nick Kyrgios seemed to fade further and further away from his tennis and more outbursts and controversies prevented him from playing the brand of tennis everyone wished he could just focus on. He fully took up the mantle of being the Bad Boy of tennis but amidst all of his problems off and on the court, fans could still see a world-beater of a tennis player underneath and that hope has kept them going and probably kept Kyrgios going to a certain extent.
The common consensus surrounding Nick Kyrgios is that he doesn’t love tennis or isn’t serious enough about it to actually excel at it. But through his recent comeback at the 2021 Wimbledon, we have seen the 26-year old not only enjoying his tennis but also excelling at it. Considering he played very little tennis throughout 2020 and 2021 and had only two weeks to prepare for the Championships, he was in fine form and he knew it too. “I can beat 50% of the Wimbledon draw without much preparation,” he said. His Wimbledon did come to an abrupt end after having to withdraw due to an abdominal injury, but Kyrgios seemed confident and optimistic for the future.
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There was a moment in his second round match at this years Wimbledon which perfectly summed Nick Kygrios up. He missed his first serve and then proceeded to have an argument with the umpire about the fault. He then walked back and hit a 134 mph second serve ace, which is basically unheard of and was the fastest second serve in Wimbledon history. A fit, confident and passionate Nick Kyrgios is what fans have been crying out for these last few years and the future does seem bright. For the sake of tennis, and for the sake of his own career, the entire tennis world is hoping he can bounce back and maintain the momentum which he has created, by keeping a level head and playing the sport in the way only Nick Kyrgios can.
[Image Credit: Nick Kyrgios]