Are We Finally Seeing The Redemption Of Nick Kyrgios?
“Here we go again.”
I can still hear the collective murmur swirl around Court 12 at Wimbledon nearly two years on. If everyone’s feelings weren’t so loud and clear, I would have narrated them myself.
Nick Kyrgios had just dropped the third set of his first-round match against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin. He was still up a set but had failed to put Istomin away in what was the third tiebreaker on the trot. After battling an inner but openly noticeable “tug-o-war” with himself, Kyrgios soon turned on his own camp.
“I’d rather have zero box. Zero!” he scorned. “I’d rather have nothing!”
As his entourage tried to save face, continuing to clap and encourage their man, the rest of the crowd was laughing and even lapping up the all-too-familiar scenes unfolding on court. Kyrgios eventually regained control of his emotions and the contest to take out the match, but his antics left an all-too-familiar sour taste in our mouths.
On a scale of zero-to-Kyrgios, this particular episode was tame compared to his other moments of madness. In fact, there was no mention of it in the post-match press conference -- in his exchange with reporters, Kyrgios went as far to describe how happy he was and how much he’d been enjoying his tennis.
In his brief-but-eventful career to date we’ve seen both the best and worst of this mercurial talent.
He is blessed with jaw-dropping skill, on both sides of his racquet, and a thunderous serve that amassed 42 aces in front of me that same morning.
But overshadowing his impressive bag of tricks has been an exhausting and frustrating saga (for the Aussie tennis fan at least) of on-court sins and off-court slips that continuously places Kyrgios in the same conversation as tennis’ original bad boys -- John McEnroe and Andre Agassi.
His rap sheet is long and is dominated by smashed racquets, obscenities, chair throwing and allegations of tanking (later an admission after stating that “sometimes I'd rather be doing something else", on top of a string of other wrongdoings that have put too many people off side.
So polarising is Kyrgios that the number of articles debating his behaviour and whether the 24-year-old could ever make up for his transgressions are starting to outnumber the transgressions themselves.
"What do we do with Nick Kyrgios?"
"What is the reason behind Nick Kyrgios’ behaviour?"
"Embarrassment' Nick Kyrgios hits new low"
"It’s his problem that he’s an idiot on court”
These are just some of the headlines a simple Google search conjures up. Love him or hate him, the guy is box office and the crowds and headlines will follow.
Ever since his breakthrough win against world number one Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014, Kyrgios has been under the constant watchful -- and often too critical -- eye of tennis legends, commentators and fans alike who are all eager to see him fulfil his potential and challenge the big three.
But there are many who can’t ignore or forgive his outbursts. And, to be honest, neither can I. But I want to.
I’m not going to begin to lecture a professional tennis player or anyone else on the art of keeping it cool. I’ve read Agassi’s autobiography, watched Andy Murray’s documentary and seen enough tennis to know I’d be way out of my depth.
Tennis is a dark art, continually tormenting the player while mesmerising onlookers. It cannot be tamed by mere mortals, and even masters of the craft are at the mercy of its powers.
But what I can do is ask the question again: Can Kyrgios ever redeem himself for his poor behaviour?
It is Agassi’s incredible tell-all that makes me think Kyrgios’ road to redemption is very real and very possible.
It was his charitable side, in the form of a foundation and school for underprivileged children, which gave Agassi some perspective as well as the tools to help turn his life and tennis around.
Kyrgios has been instrumental in drumming support for bushfire relief, his ‘Aces for Bushfires’ initiative gaining world-wide admiration, while his relaxed attitude and renewed focus has been refreshing.
I feel, with what we’ve seen from Kyrgios over the summer, that this rogue may have just found his path to bigger and brighter things.
I should rephrase my question from before and ask: Is Kyrgios already on the road to redemption?
I’ll narrate this for you as well: yes.