There are surely few, if any, figures in the tennis world as divisive as Nick Kyrgios. There is no doubting that the Australian is a gifted player when he is at his best. The four aces in a row he served to seal a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over the dangerous Daniil Medvedev is evidence enough of that. But he is also self-destructive to the point of petulance and fairly regularly fails to treat his colleagues in the professional game with the respect they deserve.
Just yesterday, on a podcast with Ben Rothenberg, he criticised world #1 Novak Djokovic, all too often the ATP’s pantomime villain, for the terrible offence of wanting to be liked and described world #2 Rafael Nadal as ‘salty’. Kyrgios followed that questionable performance with an undeniably lamentable effort on court against Norway’s Casper Ruud in the second round at the Italian Open. With the match in the balance early in the third set, Kyrgios completely lost his composure, loosing a barrage of profanity before defaulting by storming off court.
Kyrgios’ actions honestly have to be seen to be believed.
Crazy scenes in Rome.
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) May 16, 2019
This video has far clearer audio, and shows Kyrgios screaming at the crowd before walking off. (Be warned, this video contains clear profanity.)
— andre (@andreopines) May 16, 2019
The result, for a player who has had more than his fair share of trouble with the sport’s authorities, including a ban for unsportsmanlike conduct after a throwing a match at the Shanghai Masters in 2016, was another hefty fine. Kyrgios forfeited his prize money and ranking points, as well as being fined 20,000 euros for his various offences in the match. All told, it equaled a loss of over $65,000 for the contentious Canberra-native.
What to Do with Kyrgios?
As ever, Kyrgios has had his fair share of defenders. Many argue that having such a colourful character in the game is good for the sport and there is no denying that the Australian can generate headlines. Others point out that Kyrgios should be given sympathy and help in order to help unlock the undeniable potential in his game. And to some extent both are right. But only up to a point.
Kyrgios, now 24, is an adult, one in an extremely lucrative profession and one to whom help has been offered from a wide variety of sources. It is surely high-time he begins to take more responsibility for his actions, which all too often bring the game into disrepute. His comments about Djokovic and Nadal were, if nothing else, unkind and uncalled for. It is hard to imagine either the Serbian or the Spaniard, who have done so much for the sport they have dedicated their lives to, returning the favour.
And his on-court behaviour begs the question as to what he actually wants from his career. Not all talented players are natural champions, one need look no further than the great showman Gael Monfils for evidence of that. If Kyrgios does not have the sort of discipline and determination required to deliver the results that the talent he is so insistent he possesses then that is his affair. But he does have a responsibility to behave with some decorum. Unfortunately, and hardly for the first time, in Rome he proved unable to do so.
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