It’s easy to dismiss Nick Kyrgios as a brash youngster who happens to be a great tennis player, but the Australian revealed an interesting side of himself following his loss to Tomas Berdych on Friday night.
The 20-year-old saw his Australian Open campaign ended at the third round stage by Berdych in a match that was not short of controversy, with Kyrgios clashing repeatedly with the chair umpire and making no secret of his displeasure with noise that was emanating from the crowd.
But the world number 30 also played some tennis of the highest quality, and there should be no mistaking that the exit hurt him very badly.
Speaking at his post-match press conference, Kyrgios was quizzed as to his schedule for the coming months and he rubbed his face in a manner suggesting it was the last thing he wanted to discuss. But it wasn’t because he wanted a break from tennis, he had just wanted to so much more from his home grand slam where he reached the quarter-finals last year that he didn’t want to think it was over.
“I’m so disappointed, like I put so much work in, and I just feel like I let a lot of people down,” he said.
Pressed on why he felt he had let people down Kyrgios replied: “I don’t know. I was expecting a bit more out of myself. I don’t know. I was expecting like another real deep run. I put a lot of work in. It’s pretty heartbreaking.”
As the 29th seed there was certainly no shame in losing to the sixth-seeded Berdych. But that wasn’t good enough for Kyrgios, he doesn’t want to just put in showings of an acceptable level.
When told that ‘everyone has to lose sometime’, Kyrgios flat battered back with a smile: “Djokovic doesn’t lose”.
Kyrgios is an entertainer who isn’t scared to speak his mind, and at times that comes at the expense of the umpire. His antics may seem unsporting, but he’s also never shy to congratulate his opponents on their good play.
Asked if this was the impact of Lleyton Hewitt’s mentorship, Kyrgios dismissed the suggestion – and rightly so. He asserted: “To be honest, I’ve been doing that my whole life. I’ve been calling others on their good shots. That’s never changed.”
Kyrgios has many elements of a great tennis player, one who can truly entertain the crowd with a combination of charisma and flair. He has the drive to and the appreciation of good play, but at the moment he lacks the balance and the composure.
Whether he ever finds it remains to be seen, the world of tennis would certainly be better off for him finding it, the Australian Open is certainly worse for his exit.
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