Profile

Nick Kyrgios: a foul-mouthed bully or tortured genius?

The Australian has thrilled and appalled on his run to the Wimbledon final

For some, he’s a foul-mouthed bully who demeans the sport of tennis; for others he’s a “tortured and underachieving genius”. But whatever your take on Nick Kyrgios, he’s undoubtedly box office, said Mike Dickson in the Daily Mail. And in a year when Wimbledon had no Russians and carried no ranking points, the 27-year-old’s strong showing over week one was a big fillip for the tournament. Especially mesmerising was the Australian’s third-round clash against fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, a contest notable for its near-constant drama and “astounding” tennis. It was, quite simply, “among the best first-week matches ever seen”. 

No one who watched could “take their eyes off it for a second”, agreed Oliver Holt in The Mail on Sunday. After a high-quality first set, which Tsitsipas won on a tie-break, the match erupted into controversy when Kyrgios clinched the second with a brilliant passing shot. At this point Tsitsipas took a ball from his pocket and smashed it into the lower section of the crowd, narrowly missing a spectator. The umpire handed him a code violation, but this just enraged Kyrgios, who insisted his opponent should have been more harshly penalised. “You can’t hit a ball into the crowd… and not get defaulted,” he railed at the umpire. Tsitsipas, for his part, told the umpire that the Australian had “zero respect”. 

But by now Tsitsipas had “Kyrgios in his head”, said Tumaini Carayol in The Guardian. And the Greek soon “descended further into madness”, when Kyrgios threw in an underarm serve. Tsitsipas sprinted up to the ball and slapped it high at the back fence, for which he was handed a penalty point violation. Later in the third set, he “twice slapped the ball as hard as possible at Kyrgios as he stood at the net”. 

Such “toxicity threatened to derail the match”, yet the tennis continued to be of an extraordinary standard – nowhere more so than in the fourth-set tie-break, during which an “utterly nerveless” Kyrgios “demolished a series of forehands to bring up match point”, before rounding the match off with a delicate drop shot. 

Verbal volleys 

“It’s constant bullying, that’s what he does,” Tsitsipas complained afterwards. “He has a very evil side. He bullies the opponents. He was probably a bully at school himself. I don’t like bullies.” But Kyrgios brushed the charges aside, calling Tsitsipas “soft” for having allowed the disputes to rattle him. 

Kyrgios’s tennis may be brilliant for the sport, said Owen Slot in The Times, but some of his antics are “utterly reprehensible”. In the first round, he even spat at a spectator – something he should never be “allowed to get away with”. You suspect, though, that he’s incapable of changing, said Elgan Alderman in the same paper. “And if we have to choose between all of Nick or none of him, I choose all.”

Till next time, Rafa…

After defeating Tsitsipas in the Wimbledon men’s singles third round, Kyrgios has gone on to beat Brandon Nakashima in the last 16 and Cristian Garín in the quarter-final. He was due to meet Rafael Nadal in the semis on Friday, but the Spaniard has withdrawn because of an abdominal injury. This meant Kyrgios was handed a walkover to Sunday’s Championship final, where he will face defending champion Novak Djokovic or Britain’s Cameron Norrie. 

In a message posted on Instagram, Kyrgios wished Nadal well. “Different players, different personalities,” he wrote. “@rafaelnadal I hope your recovery goes well and we all hope to see you healthy soon. Till next time.”

World No.40 Kyrgios will now play in his maiden grand slam singles final. He is the lowest ranked player to reach the Wimbledon men’s final since Mark Philippoussis in 2003.

Recommended

Archie Battersbee: the laws of life and death
Archie Battersbee’s life support was switched off on 6 August
Talking point

Archie Battersbee: the laws of life and death

Britain is getting wetter – so why are there hosepipe bans?
Bough Beech Reservoir in Tonbridge is currently showing as ‘below average’
Behind the scenes

Britain is getting wetter – so why are there hosepipe bans?

‘Horror’ start: Ten Hag has a ‘hell of a job’ at United
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag
View from the terraces

‘Horror’ start: Ten Hag has a ‘hell of a job’ at United

Edinburgh Art Festival: from oyster readings to Scotland’s Jackson Pollock
Alan Davie’s Mama Idol (1976): ‘an artist of biting power’
In Review

Edinburgh Art Festival: from oyster readings to Scotland’s Jackson Pollock

Popular articles

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 August 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 11 August 2022

The Week Footer Banner