Meet Nick Kyrgios, the 24-year-old bad boy of tennis whose talent and antics make him the most frustrating and compelling player in the sport

  • Nick Kyrgios is one of the most polarising figures in tennis.
  • The 24-year-old Australian is considered one of the most talented players but is also considered a “bad boy” for his temper tantrums, meltdowns, and antics on and off the court.
  • Kyrgios has admitted he doesn’t love tennis or work as hard as he could, and some feel that if he put forth his best effort, he could be a true star.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Nick Kyrgios is one of the most enigmatic figures in tennis.

The 24-year-old Australian has been praised as one of the up-and-coming stars of the game, one of the most talented players in the world, and perhaps a future great.

But for all of Kyrgios’ talent, he also has some downfalls. Kyrgios is moody on the court and prone to temper tantrums, some so extreme that he’s been kicked out of matches. His mood swings have seen him blatantly tank games, call out umpires, fans, and opponents.

Kyrgios has admitted he doesn’t love tennis and doesn’t work as hard as his peers. Yet he is also ranked 36th in the world and has an impressive record against tennis’ Big Four – a sign that he could dominate if he wanted to.

Read below to learn more about tennis’ bad boy, and its most compelling star.


Nick Kyrgios is one of the most complicated and controversial stars in all of tennis. He may be more physically gifted than any other player, with a rare combination of power, speed, and finesse.


However, Kyrgios’ personality often gets in the way of his talent. He’s as known for his meltdowns on the court and occasional brash behaviour as he is for his skill.


For much of his career, Kyrgios has waffled between moments of individual brilliance and befuddling breakdowns.


His meltdowns at matches have become common occurrences, whether it’s smashing racquets…


… Or trash-talking fans, opponents, or chair umpires.


Growing up in Australia, Kyrgios had a natural skill for the game. At 14 years old, he chose tennis over basketball (more on that later) because he had a better chance at making it professionally in tennis.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Kyrgios said he was overweight growing up because he ate too much. As a result, he learned how to hit deft shots and guess where his opponents’ shots would land so he could win matches without expending energy.

Karleen Minney/Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Source: New York Times


Kyrgios joined a national tennis training center at 15 years old and moved away from home. A local coach who watched Kyrgios said of his skill, “His arm was so fast, it was like he was playing with a toothpick.”

Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Sources: New York Times, The New Yorker


Kyrgios’ rise through the ranks was quick. He won his first amateur grand slam at 17 years old at the Australian Open, winning the tournament without dropping a set.

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Over the next two years, Kyrgios gradually climbed up the world rankings. His breakout moment arguably came at Wimbledon in 2014, when he beat Rafa Nadal, then the world No. 1, in four sets to reach the quarter-finals.


Wimbledon 2015 was another breakout moment for Kyrgios, for reasons both good and bad. Kyrgios played well beating eighth-ranked Milos Raonic in the Round of 32 to reach the Round of 16.


However, while facing Richard Guasquet with the quarter-finals on the line, Kyrgios melted down.

via ESPN/ATP

Kyrgios was served a code violation for cursing. After he lost the game, he then tanked his way through the next game, blatantly not trying to return Gasquet’s serves.

He also got in trouble for changing his socks too slowly.

He eventually lost the match.


Read mo
re:

20-year-old tennis player loses his mind at Wimbledon, stops trying for an entire game because he’s mad at the umpire


Kyrgios got in trouble again in 2015 at the Montreal Masters when he told his opponent, Stan Wawrinka, that fellow tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis had slept with Wawrinka’s girlfriend.

After the match, Kyrgios explained it by saying: “[Wawrinka] was getting lippy with me … I just said it.”

Wawrinka expressed his outrage via Twitter, and Kyrgios was later fined $US25,000 and suspended for 28 days.


Read more:
Tennis’ new bad boy caught on camera telling his opponent that his girlfriend cheated on him with another player


He climbed the rankings in 2016, getting as high as 14th in the world. He then tanked another match at the Shangai Masters, even asking the umpire to call the match so he could go home.

via ATP


Read more:


21-year-old Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios got into an argument with a fan and blatantly tanked a match


At the 2019 Mexican Open, Kyrgios took part in a wild match against Rafa Nadal.

Kyrgios wanted to forfeit because he felt sick but told trainers that the media would rip him for it.

As the match went on, in front of a pro-Nadal crowd, Kyrgios told the fans to “shut the f— up.”

Kyrgios eventually battled back to win the match. Upon winning, he exchanged an icy handshake with Nadal, then taunted the crowd. Nadal later criticised Kyrgios for his lack of respect.


Read more:


Nick Kyrgios nearly quit a match, grew scared of the crowd reaction, and traded barbs with Rafa Nadal in a wild scene


Most recently, he was kicked out of the Italian Open after he cursed and threw a chair onto the court.


Read more:


Nick Kyrgios is out of the Italian Open after he threw a chair onto the court, packed his bag, and walked off in the middle of the match


These moments frustrate the tennis world because Kyrgios is also capable of greatness. He’s one of the most impressive shot-makers on tour.


He has a thing for tweeners…


And no-look shots (even if they don’t always work)…


He has unreal touch…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uVHl8IzFWY?start=109


He’s one of the best servers on tour. He’s fifth in serve rating and third in aces per match.

Source: ATP


Kyrgios has also been known to bust out a tricky underhand serve, which some in the tennis world view as cheap. Kyrgios said too many players are too afraid to try something new on the court.

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios has long been viewed as the-next-big-thing in tennis.

Albert Perez/Getty Images

Brad Gilbert, an ESPN analyst and former Andre Agassi coach, told the New Yorker in 2017: “I think he has the most talent of anyone twenty-five and under. If you put the total package around him, and he embraced that, I would be shocked if he didn’t win multiple slams and become top two in the world.”

Source: The New Yorker


There seem to be several issues plaguing Kyrgios, however. He doesn’t have a coach, having moved on from several coaches and admitting he doesn’t take well to coaching.

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Kyrgios has lacked motivation and maturity, at times.


He has admitted to getting home-sick on the tour, saying he misses his family, friends, and dogs.


One issue that has plagued Kyrgios — he likes basketball more than tennis. He has said so himself!

“I don’t really like the sport of tennis that much. I don’t love it … But I just love basketball, I love the sport. I always have. I try when I’m on the road with tennis not to watch too many basketball videos and stuff like that, to keep me focused, but it’s tough.”

Source: Independent


Unlike many other top athletes, he isn’t motivated by others’ success. He said in 2017 that watching then-20-year-old Alexander Zverev win a tournament didn’t motivate him.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

“I’m incredibly happy for him,”Kyrgios said. “But I don’t know if it motivates me. I didn’t feel, as soon as he won, Man, I’m going to go train, or anything. He won a tournament. It’s good, but it’s more weeks on the road where we’re going to play tennis matches, and that’s it.”

Source:
The New Yorker


Andy Murray has become a mentor to Kyrgios. But Kyrgios turned down a training trip with Murray because he feared the amount of work they would do. “That was a quick no for me, because I know he’s going to be training four, five hours a day. We were probably going to have to be doing these protein shakes.”

Source: The New Yorker


Kyrgios said he looks up to French tennis player Gael Monfils. Monfils has had a successful career, but, to some, has not lived up to his potential. There are parallels between the two players.

Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Source:
The New Yorker


Kyrgios said he thinks consistency is a great skill … but he’s not sure he’ll ever have it. “If I had that, Jesus, I’d probably have a couple grand slams already,” he said.

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios has even questioned his own work ethic, telling Ben Rothenberg: “It’s so hard to find people that just wanna like hang out on a daily basis and just be so chilled and not take it so seriously. Everyone is so professional. And like, compared to me, for sure I do the least amount of work out of the top 100.”

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios said he was out partying for the entirety of the 2019 Mexican Open — and still won the tournament.

Hector Vivas/Getty Images

“I went out every night,” Kyrgios said, adding he was going to sleep around 4 a.m.

“I was playing, and I was packing my going-out clothes in my tennis bag … It was insane. I was jet-skiing and partying and I won a tournament. I’m just like, ‘How?'”

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios said he’s not sure how long he’ll be able to play tennis because he plays a lot of basketball and doesn’t take great care of his body.

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios is nothing if not brutally honest. That includes his opinions of other players on tour. For instance, Kyrgios trashed Fernando Verdasco as “the most arrogant person ever.”

Marc DesRosiers/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Getty Images

“He doesn’t say hello, he thinks he’s so good, he thinks he’s God’s gift. Dude, your backhand’s pretty average and let’s be honest, you hit a ball over a net.”

Source: No Challenges Remaining


He also called Novak Djokovic “cringeworthy” and said Djokovic tries too hard to be liked by everybody.

Clive Mason/Getty

Kyrgios did praise Djokovic’s play, however.

Source: No Challenges Remaining


He also called out Rafa Nadal, calling Nadal “salty” and the polar opposite of himself.

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios also called out Angelique Kerber in 2019 for what he thought was two-faced behaviour.

Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty Images

After Kerber lost to Bianca Andreescu at the Miami Open, Kerber called Andreescu a “drama queen.” Later on, she praised Andreescu on Twitter for winning the match, and Kyrgios tweeted, “Bruh you said she is a drama queen and then post this.”


Kyrgios said he doesn’t understand why he has to respect his opponents. He said: “I don’t understand why I have to respect them, like, automatically. All they do is literally hit a ball over the net.”

Al Bello/Getty Images

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios has admitted he’s a “troll” online.

Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Source: No Challenges Remaining


Kyrgios’ agent, John Morris, who Kyrgios has called a friend, has said that the 24-year-old is a mystery, even to him.

Marijan Murat/Getty Images

Source: The New Yorker


Some think that Kyrgios’ antics, lackadaisical attitude, and luke-warm attitude toward tennis is a cover for how he truly feels. Some think he desires to be great, but has trouble channeling it and is afraid to fail if he gives his best effort.

Al Bello/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times


Kyrgios said he’s lucky to be able to simply “turn the tap on” when he needs to play his best tennis and believes he’ll be able to do so for the next few years. The tennis world will be watching to see if Kyrgios ever changes, takes the game more seriously, and realises his immense potential.


Now, check out who fans love to root against the most…

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