Nick Kyrgios Flips the Switch

Nick Kyrgios Citi Open 2022

Not even a year ago, Nick Kyrgios was hinting at retirement plans, like a player in his thirties. Earlier this year, in February, he also opened up about suicidal thoughts and the dark phase he went through. Now he stands as a Wimbledon finalist, and also having won an ATP 500 immediately after that. How was this polar switch possible? Let us see.

Form of his life

After his incredible doubles triumph Down Under, Kyrgios played a lot of singles draws owing to wild cards, and managed to make a mark everywhere. He made the semifinals at Houston, Stuttgart, and Halle, besides making the quarterfinal at the Indian Wells, where he lost a tough match to Rafael Nadal. The final at Wimbledon though, was the real deal. Playing the role of the dark horse, Kyrgios defeated few of the in-form players on grass. In the final too, having won the first set, he had a superb chance to secure the biggest win of his career, but he couldn’t.

After Wimbledon, Kyrgios headed for the American hard court swing. He rampaged through the Washington field, dropping just one set in six matches. He is also very well placed for the title in the ongoing Montreal Masters 1000. Certainly, Kyrgios has had better seasons before. However, this one is special, first because it is an up-from-the-depths story, and secondly, because he rarely sustains the winning momentum over such a prolonged period.

How Nick Kyrgios turned it around

The fairy-tale can be officially said to have started in Australia. He couldn’t make any ripples as such in the singles section, drawing up a red-hot Daniil Medvedev in the second round (where he still managed to take a set). The real shift happened in the doubles section. What Kyrgios needed to get back to his past level was a change in mentality. Kyrgios has many a times said that he finds tennis boring or words amounting to that. But last year when he talked about retirement, it indeed felt weird. He had lost the drive at that time. That is why doubles with his good friend and colleague Thanasi Kokkinakis was pivotal in his comeback.

Playing doubles with Kokkinakis in Australia was as much as it could get playing tennis for Kyrgios. The crowd was his, the court was his. There was no pressure of performance, plus the responsibility is halved in doubles. That is where Kyrgios got a reminder of how much he enjoyed the game just for the sake of playing. The doubles Major title put him back on track. After that, the momentum translated to his singles matches too, and how! He straightaway made the final at Wimbledon, despite not being 100% on his fitness. And we can see his performance right now, set up nicely for two consecutive impressive performances at quality tournaments.

The Crowd Puller

A controversial superstar he is, but even the biggest haters will have to agree that Kyrgios should be credited for generating huge interest in the sport, after the big 4. When Kyrgios plays, one thing that we always see is that he is equally–sometimes more–concerned about making a point look good than winning it at all. Add to that, his constant fireworks with either one of the umpire/opponent/crowd collection, ensure that when Kyrgios takes to the court, it can never be boring.

Kyrgios is not just a controversy guy as he is made out to be, though. He is still one of the only three players who have beaten each of the “Big 3” in their first encounters. This stat might not be very comprehensive, but it shows that Kyrgios will play without any kind of fear or reservations, however accomplished his opponent may be.

The Entertainer

Sometimes on the court, it just seems that he cares more about winning a point spectacularly more than winning it in the first place. It seems he would rather give away a point than have to work for it. It’s sad that a player having the amount of talent Kyrgios has, will leave a greater legacy as an entertainer┬árather than a winner. That has always been the Kyrgios way, though. As he wins much more now, perhaps that is changing.

Main Photo from Getty.