Which Version Of Nick Kyrgios Will Show Up At The Australian Open?
Drama, drama, and more drama.
If you thought the tennis world was short of tension and theatre over the past 12 months, Nick Kyrgios playing just nine matches in 2020 might have been a big reason why.
In the three matches since the 'bad boy' of tennis returned on court, we've already witnessed two meltdowns of sorts, with the table set for another season of nervously watching this enigmatic star through our fingers.
In the first match, it was an injury which left Kyrgios telling his box that there was “no chance” he was going to play the Australian Open. And last Thursday, he refused to play after receiving a time violation on his serve until he spoke to the tournament supervisor.
Over the years, we’ve seen a multitude of Kyrgios’ personalities on court. We’ve seen situations where he couldn’t be bothered playing, often ‘tanking’ a few points and subsequently, matches as well. On the other hand, we've witnessed him play with complete focus and high intensity, especially when pitted against top players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal.
This high intensity and superior focus of his has also been on show when he plays in Australia, especially at the Australian Open. It's here where we've often seen a different side of Kyrgios bloom, often saving his best, most determined tennis for Melbourne Park....Well, at least on most occasions we have.
In fact last year was a vintage example of Kyrgios, looking every bit like a top-ten player in Melbourne just prior to the world being tipped on its head because of Covid.
From the word go, Kyrgios demonstrated focus and drive and was seemingly locked in, charging all the way through to the Round of 16 where he ultimately fell to Rafael Nadal in a tight 4-setter.
"I feel like I've made progress as a human," Kyrgios said in his post-match press conference last year after bowing out.
For someone who is usually known for finishing off his points quickly, and seemingly trying to end his matches as rapidly as possible, Kyrgios spent 13 hours and 5 minutes on court at the Australian Open last year which was the most he’d ever spent on court in a Grand Slam. This included a 4 hr 26 min third-round marathon against Karen Kachanov which qualified as Kyrgios’ longest-ever match.
In 2018 as well, we saw the same, determined and motivated Kyrgios come out and play some of his best tennis before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. That year, he spent nearly 11 hours on court, averaging 2.75 hours per match compared to 12 hours and 36 minutes in the other three Grand Slams combined.
While it's always tough to speculate upon just which Kick Kyrgios will show up at each event, something which we do know for sure is that he seems to rise and relish the opportunity of playing the big guns. In fact, he's won each of his two encounters against the all-conquering Novak Djokovic, while he owns a very respectable 3-5 record against Nadal. While Federer has won six of the pair's seven meetings, Kyrgios has pushed him to the limit on a number of occasions, which isn't something that can be said for a vast majority of players on tour. In addition, he has a 4-3 record against world #5 Alexander Zverev, while he's unbeaten in his two matches against rising star, and world #4 Daniil Medvedev.
At this year's Australian Open, Kyrgios does have a few big name in his section of the draw, including what looms as a massive third-round encounter against the current world #3, and reigning US Open champ, Dominic Thiem. If he's able to topple the brilliant Austrian, there exists a legitimate path to Kyrgios' third-ever Grand Slam quarter-final, and a possible maiden Grand Slam semi-final appearance.
While Kyrgios doesn't look completely fit right now, and not overly content with his lead-up performances either, if he can channel the kind of fight he's shown previously in Melbourne, then a deep run is well within his grasp.
His tournament began Monday, easily sweeping aside Portugal's Frederico Ferreira Silva, and continues tonight, taking on 22-year old, rising French star, Ugo Humbert.
So, Which side of Nick Kyrgios will we be seeing at the Australian Open? Will he draw inspiration from his local fans and go on a deep run, or will yet another emotional breakdown get the better of his prestigious talent?
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