Nick Kyrgios -Mesmerising Tennis
Watching Nick Kyrgios perform at Wimbledon one was left amazed at what a prodigiously gifted athlete he is.
It is a pity that he cannot combine this talent with an equitable temperament. If only he could, he almost certainly will be one of the best tennis players around. As it is he is ranked 45 and will continue to be a journeyman for he just can't keep his emotions under control.
According to a tennis magazine Kyrgios has received more fines for his temperamental on court behavior than any other player in ATP history. His actions have included swearing, smashing his racket, as well as insults and verbal altercations with the crowd, with umpires and with his opponents.
Controversy is clearly Kyrgios' middle name. And yet with all that he remains only the third player to have beaten each one of the Big Three Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer the first time he played against them.
Yes, that too is Kyrgios all over again. His tennis is a delightful mix of power and poetry, aggression and artistry. At Wimbledon he brought his extraordinary brand of improvised tennis theatre to the world's greatest stage.
He played mesmerizing tennis – though he was probably lucky to make the final thanks to Nadal withdrawing because of injury in the penultimate round – and carried it right through the first set of the final against Djokovic before buckling under the relentless accuracy of the Serb to go down in four sets. He belted down 30 aces, and at times made shots with a high degree of difficulty look ridiculously easy.
But the dark side is never far away when Kyrgios is around. An audible obscenity warning followed in the third set after his ranting about a heckling female fan. In the heat of the battle he also vented his frustration at his entourage letting rip when he dropped serve at 4-4 in the third set having led 40-love – a game that proved crucial. Sitting on his chair at the changeover he yelled across the court accusing and yelling at his team who were sitting close to the Royal Box of not offering him enough support.
Kyrgios began Wimbledon with a fine for spitting towards a fan following his first-round victory over Paul Jubb and came through a toxic third-round clash with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. In the second week of the tournament he seemed to have mellowed down and played his best tennis which saw him make a Grand Slam final for the first time but with Krygios one never goes when the next explosion will be heard.
It was no surprise to read that Australia's media marked rather than celebrated Kyrgios's impressive run mixing praise for his play with condemnation of his outbursts. It was a familiar postmortem and further evidence that the Canberra based player remains a frustrating enigma thanks to his graceless rants and his penchant for mixing perfection with petulance.
He remained a rebel till the end receiving the runner-up trophy from the Duchess of Cambridge while donning a red cap in defiance of tradition for which he was criticized and could even face a fine. There is more trouble ahead as he faces an appearance in a Canberra court next month on a charge of assaulting his former girlfriend. As one critic put it succinctly ``the message for Kyrgios is clear. The only man he really has to conquer is himself."
But then if the 27-year-old maverick Aussie did attract a lot of attention – in more ways than one – the ultimate honour was Djokovic's. It had not been an easy time for him. First there was the eviction from the Australian Open thanks to the now well known vaccination dispute.
Then he was dethroned more than once by Daniil Medvedev. Then came his quarterfinal exit from the French Open courtesy Nadal. And while he got stuck on 20 Grand Slam titles along with Federer the Spaniard by winning the first two majors of the season surged to 22.
Djokovic however was not to be denied No 21 as he absorbed some early brilliance from Kyrgios and emerged triumphant. The manner in which he is playing there is every indication that No 22 is not far behind. As it is he equaled Pete Sampras with seven Wimbledon titles leaving only Federer with eight ahead of him.
Competing in a men's record 32nd Major final the Serb was up against an opponent who had not even dropped a set in their only two previous meetings, both in 2017. Indeed the man with a reputation of the best return of serve did not once break the Kyrgios serve in the two matches. But then Djokovic is not one to be bothered about past records and reputations. Though the current ranking might have him at No 7 with Wimbledon carrying no ranking points he is still the player to beat when it comes to the big stage. Further proof of this should come at the US Open which he has won three times.
It is interesting to note that while the GenNext of players have overtaken him in the rankings with Medvedev being firmly perched at the No 1 spot, Alexander Zverev at No 2 and Stefanos Tsitsipas at No 4 the three Slams of the year have been won by Nadal and Djokovic.
The GenNext of players have been strengthened with the emergence of the exciting Carlos Alcaraz but Nadal currently No 3 is still very much around and so the duel for supremacy between the two generations which has been going on for some years now continues through 2022 with Nadal, 36 and Djokovic 35 not yet ready to ride off into the sunset. Far from it.