A Commentary On Nick Kyrgios Commentating On The Australian Open
As John McEnroe almost used to say: "You cannot be Kyrgios!"
But Channel 9 is serious. They have deployed none other than Nick Kyrgios in the role of chief commentator for today's Roger Federer match against young American Taylor Fritz.
And he's brilliant. Absolute gold.
"I'm so nervous, you guys keep talking me up," Kyrgios sheepishly said, and he probably was too, but it didn't show.
Nine has done a lot of things right in this, its first Australian Open after Seven had it for so many years. They've brought over the inimitable John McEnroe, who is excellent because he's John McEnroe, as well as Jim Courier, who is unquestionably the best tennis commentator in the world.
And they've unearthed a commentary superstar in Dylan Alcott, a para sports champ who is an accomplished radio man. Alcott has effortlessly transferred his engaging interview style over to TV.
And now they've got Kyrgios for Roger Federer's 100th match at the Australian open. Great stuff.
What's good about Kyrgios is that -- like McEnroe -- he speaks his mind. Like Lleyton Hewitt, he's also a good analyst. Before the match he said Roger would defuse Fritz's huge serve with his trademark slice returns.
"He'll make Taylor uncomfortable with the slice, mix it up a bit," he said.
So it proved as early as five games into the first set, as Federer went out to lead 4-1 with two breaks.
"He's got a short backhand swing so his backhand returns are a lot more efficient," Kyrgios said a little later, explaining why Federer was serving predominantly -- and successfully -- to Fritz's forehand.
He's also, at times, deliciously self-deprecating.
"There's a guy called Kyrios who can have a crack at times but can be a bit erratic," he said at one point, as the team were dissecting the strengths and weakneses of various modern players.
Another Kyrgios asset is that he's young, which means he knows the current players. He hits with Fritz, and plays video games with him too. He's played Federer numerous times and beaten him once.
So he knows exactly what's going on out there, and is sharing his knowledge.
This is good fun and has turned what looked like being just another Friday afternoon Federer slaughter into an event.
Meanwhile, Federer has won the first set 6-2.
"The rhythm that Federer's in, Fritz is going to have to take a lot more risks, come forward off the return, just mix it up," Kyrgios said. Which is true. But easier said than done.
Interesting. Kyrgios just said he doesn't make use of all the scouting stats available these days. He says he's more of a "gut" player. Makes sense.
Ha! And if you listen carefully, you'll hear just the faintest NK chuckle in the background after this unfortunate miss. Reckon he might just have been there before himself, people.
Meanwhile, Federer has now won the second set. He leads 6-2 7-5. He can still play tennis.
"Roger's been around so long, he's taken care of his body, he knows what to do to win matches," Kyrgios said before this match.
True that. Eat your greens and go for a run, people.
Wow, and it's happening so quickly here, we can barely type fast enough. Federer is now serving for the match at 5-2 in the third set.
He wins the first point 15-0 with a winner that perhaps nobody else in the history of the game would have hit.
It wasn't the most sizzling cross-court or down-the-line winner hit with outstretched arm. It was just that he had hardly an inch of space to work with, yet still smacked the ball out of his opponent's reach.
"That shot, it was 10 out of 10 difficulty-wise," Kyrgios explained. Fritz hit a great return deep, he gave Federer no space, and somehow he hit a winner off it," Kyrgios says.
Called like a pro.
And before long, the match is done. Federer wins 6-2 7-5 6-2 and will play Stefanos Tsitsipas -- the 20-year-old Greek rising star who is world number 15 -- in the fourth round.
"I had a lot of fun," Kyrgios says of his stint in the commentary box.
So did we. Cheers, Nick.