Flat White

Why I adore Nick Kyrgios

16 July 2022

7:00 AM

16 July 2022

7:00 AM

I’ve always had a thing for bad boys and if ever there was a bad boy of tennis, Nick Kyrgios is painted as so. But is he really?

Sure, I don’t applaud his spitting. That was not cool. He wasn’t the first, as I know from my husband’s ball boy stories of old. When he was running after balls on centre court, a well-known South African spat at a linesman right in front of him. My husband was grateful to be out of the line of the spittle.

Then there was Ilie Theodoriu Năstase. He is etched, arguably, at the top of the template for bad boys of tennis. (One magazine said he slept with over 2,500 women at the height of his career, proving I’m not the only one who likes a bad boy.) Exciting to watch with his unorthodox and unpredictable shots, he is most remembered for his abrasive behaviour on the court. He walked off the court. He had a ton of fines, suspensions, and even disqualifications.

And of course, there is McEnroe. Is there really any difference between Kyrgios and McEnroe? I remember when McEnroe was suspended for three weeks after a tournament in Sweden. He yelled at the umpire, ‘Answer the question, jerk!’; hit the ball into the crowd, and smashed a tray of drinks with his racquet. Not something that Kyrgios has done. Yet even after all of this, McEnroe has been given redemption despite being the Superbrat.

While I don’t condone this behaviour, and while everyone loves a polite Federer-style match with a cup of tea calmly sipped, pinky held high, and nibbles of cucumber sandwiches – a lot of us all enjoy a bit of spice. Kyrgios knows this. Tickets to his matches sell more than anyone else outside of Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic and the television ratings soar when he plays.

Kyrgios is passionate. He is competitive and no doubt there’s a bit of gamesmanship thrown in with his rantings, but if you’ve ever played competitive tennis you’ll understand gamesmanship is par for the course. Tennis like all sports is about mental strength.

What I like about Kyrgios is he does his own thing. He’s not stifled by a bunch of minders to tell him to rein it in. He doesn’t even have a coach.

In the world of same-same but different, Krygios is a stand out. How boring are post-match press conferences when sports people are briefed to the eyeballs about what to say about their opposition with platitudes as fake as the new lettuce on a KFC burger (it’s currently a cabbage mixture with a bit of lettuce thrown in).

How refreshing is it to hear someone tell it like it is. Kyrgios is real. He’s entertaining and he’s talented. In a game of white-washed civility, it’s exciting to see someone don a red cap and watch the critics fire up.

Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan is a prize-winning short story writer and is currently working on an urban fantasy novel. She is managing editor of a travel magazine and is the founding owner of a communications agency now in its twentieth year.

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