R3, QF, R1, R3, R3, R2, R1. Do you know what that is? You probably don’t, but those are Nick Kyrgios’ last seven results at official events.
Despite all this, four years on from his Wimbledon quarterfinal run, we still constantly hear praise for him such as:
“Good for tennis”
“One of the most talented players ever”
“Future No. 1”
“Future Grand Slam champion”
“Top five serve of all time”
(All real quotes from tennis analysts)
Some of this may very well be true; I’m not going to argue for or against his personality being “colorful.” In truth, I’m going to completely avoid mentioning his personality, behaviour, and antics at all. We all know what he’s like and done and what you think is best left outside of this piece.
So let’s look at those quotes actually related to tennis results. I’m not saying he won’t become World #1 or that he won’t win a Grand Slam. What I am saying, however, is that the Australian’s results don’t show any real basis for that. Is he a good tennis player? Of course. Is he as good as the tennis media make him out to be? Results wise, not at all.
The 23-year-old just has two Grand Slams quarter-finals to his name. To make matters even worse, the most recent of the two came at the 2015 Australian Open, almost four years ago (where he didn’t beat a Top 25 player). Since then his results are:
R3, R4, R1, R3, R3, R4, R3, R2, R2, R1, R1, R4, R3, R3.
In the 21 Grand Slams he’s played altogether, Kyrgios has only beaten two top 10 players, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic at Wimbledon 2014 and 2015. Since then, check out the rankings of the opponents he has beaten at the Major events:
68, 41, 124, 123, 121, 85, 21, 77, 71, 77, 43, 98, 65, 15, 92, 43, 95, 75.
18 wins in total, with 13 being against players outside the top 70 (72%) and just the two against players inside the top 40 (11%).
Yet despite all this the Australian found himself a top 10 favourite to win the title at every Grand Slam he played this year. Results wise as you probably now see, none of it adds up.
Return of Serve
Over the years we’ve heard how Nick Kyrgios can pull off any shot in the book, can hit killer forehands and great backhand passes. If all of this were true, wouldn’t he be winning a fair amount of return games?
When you think of players who don’t win many return games however, most people don’t think of Nick Kyrgios. Instead they think of the the huge servers, the likes of John Isner, Milos Raonic, and Kevin Anderson, just to name a few.
The funny thing is in the last 52 weeks, two of those three names I just mentioned (Raonic and Anderson) have won a higher percentage of return games in contrast to Kyrgios. In fact, it’s not even close–with the Canadian and South African at 17% and 16.1% respectively, while the Australian is at 13.9%, putting Kyrgios 95th on tour. Admittedly, his numbers have dropped off in recent times, but even then in 2014-2017 he ended the year 85th, 79th, 64th, and 69th in return games won.
To give some practical examples, World #2 Roger Federer has held serve 45 times in a row against Nick Kyrgios, just facing four break points in all 45 games. Furthermore, in August at the Masters 1000 in Cincinnatti, the Australian broke serve just two times in nine sets of tennis–that’s 2 times in 47 return games (4.3%).
On the other side of the court, the Australian finished the 2016 season 4th in service games won as well as 6th in 2017. You can see how he’s won a very high percentage of games his whole career thus far.
The man from the Australian capital finds himself with four career titles, which given the struggles younger players have had to win trophies, is actually pretty good. The issue lies in when they’ve all come. After the three in 2016 he’s won just one title in the the 24 months since (Brisbane 2018).
While he is not even making the latter rounds at Slams, he is also not competing and bringing home smaller events either. Which is worrying, because at the smaller ATP events you can often find yourself celebrating on Sunday without beating a top 20 player.
With absolutely no disrespect to Steve Johnson, Taro Daniel, Marton Fucsovics, Damir Dzumhur, and Nikolaz Basilashvili, just to name a few players, these men are barely ever spoken about or hyped by the tennis media yet have still brought home at least one ATP title this year.
Given the hype and attention Kyrgios attains shouldn’t he at the very least be doing the same?
With all the recent early losses, the 23-year-old is now ranked #38 in the world. To put this into perspective, here is a list of players younger than himself inside the world’s top 40:
#5 – Alexander Zverev (21)
#14 – Stefanos Tsitsipas (20)
#19 – Borna Coric (21)
#23 – Hyeon Chung (22)
#24 – Karen Khachanov (22)
#28 – Daniil Medvedev (22)
#30 – Denis Shapovalov (19)
#33 – Alex Di Minaur (19)
#38 – Nick Kyrgios (23)
#40 – Frances Tiafoe (20)
As you can see, there are eight men ranked higher than him. We can also see his compatriot Di Minaur is now ranked higher at just 19 years of age, the same age as Denis Shapovalov. There’s also recent Toronto finalist Stefano Tsitsipas at 20 and Alexander Zverev at 21, who’s already had a career high of #3. My point is, a fair amount of these guys aren’t just younger, they’re much younger–only two are actually within a year (Chung and Medvedev) of Kyrgios’ age.
Yet we keep on hearing these comparisons all the time. If we are seriously going to compare him to guys several years younger shouldn’t we also compare him to Dominic Thiem, who’s just 19 months older? If we are here’s the stats, which are telling in their own right:
|Nick Kyrgios||Dominic Thiem|
|Grand Slam Finals||0||1|
|Grand Slam Semifinals||0||3|
Back to those younger than Kyrgios, with the exception of Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios is seemingly the most rated and hyped player of the lot. In Zverev’s case it’s pretty obvious why, he’s 21 and already has three Masters titles alongside six other titles and a career high ranking of #3 ,as mentioned earlier. What about the others though? Shouldn’t we be hyping and rating and hyping the youngsters going up the rankings with big results (eg. Tsitsipas with finals in Barcelona and Toronto, losing both to World #1 Rafael Nadal) and not someone falling down the rankings struggling to make even the latter rounds of events?
Right now, Nick Kyrgios’ career is getting pear-shaped, despite the constant hype and expectations many still hold for him. As I started off by saying, I’m not saying he won’t be #1, win a Grand Slam, or anything like that, I’m just putting across that results wise he is very overrated and overhyped at this moment in time, and these comments are making less and less sense as time goes on.
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