Nick Kyrgios just continues to divide the tennis fans of the world. Hardly anyone denies the great talent, as seen to great effect a couple of times in 2019. At the same time, barely anyone denies the poor attitude and questionable decisions that have also cropped up this year.
Nick Kyrgios in 2019
Multiple fines, Two ATP titles, one deferred ban and partridge in a pear tree
The misdemeanors of Kyrgios would take up too much time to fully analyze, but this year’s “highlights” included:
- Altercations with spectators in Miami
- Throwing a chair onto the court after swearing at a linesperson in Rome
- Five separate incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct at Cincinnati
- Referring to the ATP as “corrupt” in a press conference at the US Open
Kyrgios subsequently apologized and explained the “corrupt” comments as a misunderstanding, but the ATP still found enough cause in his record to fine the Australian $167,000 and place upon him a 16-week ban from the circuit. The ban was suspended for a six-month probationary period, it remains to be seen if Kyrgios can uphold his standards of behavior for this amount of time.
Powerful and sublime play in Acapulco and Washington
In between his more controversial acts, it should not be forgotten that the Aussie produced some amazing tennis.
His fifth ATP title came at Acapulco. Kyrgios was twice victorious in third-set tie-breaks, in the second round against Rafael Nadal and in the semifinal against John Isner. Alexander Zverev was then defeated in the final, so this was a title that was hard-earned and against quality opponents.
There would be no follow-up until July in Washington. It was in this tournament that Kyrgios instigated the famous routine of getting advice from members of the crowd. It was match point in the quarterfinal and Kyrgios enlisted the services of a fan from the front row to tell him where he should direct his serve. The result was an ace. Therefore when Kyrgios reached match point in both semifinals and final (versus Stefanos Tsitsipas & Daniil Medvedev respectively) it was only natural, for Kyrgios, to continue this “tactic”. He won both matches and the title so we must conclude that the Washington crowd are tactical geniuses.
Disappointment for Krygios fans at Grand Slams
Acapulco and Washington were actually the only tournaments in the whole year that Kyrgios managed to reach even a quarterfinal. This really demonstrates the “boom or bust” nature of the volatile Aussie’s tennis.
It was very much “bust” in the Grand Slam events in 2019. His home Slam lasted three sets as Milos Raonic swept him aside, he was a no-show the French Open but returned for the grass-court season.
Jordan Thompson pushed Krygios to five sets in the first round in a real topsy-turvy encounter. This set up a second-round encounter with Rafael Nadal in which Krygios played with real determination, respect and ability. It was a very tight four-set encounter that the Spaniard was undoubtedly relieved to get through.
Much was expected at the US Open after Krygios’ Washington win but, perhaps unsurprisingly, disappointment was just around the corner. A third-round exit to a talent such as Andrey Rublev is certainly nothing to be ashamed about but Kyrgios fans certainly went into that match believing that it was time for the Aussie to make a deep run in a Slam.
Maybe 2020 will be that year. Certainly, more consistency will be required from Kyrgios at some level if he is to fulfill his potential. But perhaps the key question is, is that what Nick Kyrgios wants? Either way, there will be entertainment following the journey.
Main Photo from Getty