Nick Kyrgios is the highlight of the 2016 Australian Open


NICK Kyrgios is out of the Australian Open and the tournament is poorer for it.

I spent my first week at Melbourne Park watching the likes of Federer, Murray, Nadal and Serena but there was only one player I felt I had to be courtside for every point.

Lleyton Hewitt’s farewell matches were fantastic. Seeing him win one more time was a treat and the tributes after he lost to David Ferrer were powerful.

But when I remember this tournament I’ll remember Nick. And the shorts that didn’t fit. And that irritating Elle King song that drifted over Rod Laver Arena while he was trying to serve. And that forehand he hit against Tomas Berdych I only barely saw because it was moving so fast.

I’m not going to try to change your opinion on the brash kid from Canberra. If you’re a fan, great. If you’re not, that’s fine too (although I’d advise against ever getting too worked up about someone you’ve only ever see on a TV screen).

The reality — from my experience watching all of his matches, practice sessions and press conferences in the past five days — is he’s really not a bad guy.

You’ve all seen and heard how he carries on during matches. It’s not ideal. But on some occasions there were legitimate reasons for his gripes. Those outbursts will temper as he grows up. And it’s not as though he’s introducing us to words we’ve never heard before.

In my opinion, the positives far outweigh the negatives at a Kyrgios match. Take Friday night for example.

Inspire Tennis Blog Post Nick Kyrgios Australian Open 2

Kyrgios brings the theatre to the tennis court.Source:AFP

Which other players allow members of the crowd to basically decide whether they challenge a line call or not? Who hears a fan tell them to serve a bomb down the “T”, acknowledges the tip and then fires down an ace in precisely that position?

The 20-year-old is just pure entertainment.

His practice sessions aren’t as structured as the likes of Hewitt or Murray. He engages with the crowd far more (even inviting some lucky youngsters to hit with him) and wastes time attempting shots he’d never hit in a game.

But maybe that’s what works best for Kyrgios. Maybe he needs to be relaxed. His best set of the tournament — the third against Berdych — came when he was having the most fun.

Or maybe he’ll decide attention to detail is the difference between being a really good player and a great player and he’ll start becoming more disciplined and find a coach who can keep him focused.

Or maybe he already knows and just doesn’t care. Maybe he thinks travelling the world with his mates and earning seriously good money while hovering around the top 30 is enough for him.

Some would crucify him for wasting his talent but it’s his life, not yours. All of us make work-life balance decisions based on what we think is most important.

Kyrgios can be defensive in press conferences but you can hardly blame him. We had a slightly tense moment on Monday night when I phrased a question poorly.

Inspire Tennis Blog Post Nick Kyrgios Australian Open

It’s not really fair to judge someone based purely on what we see on TV.Source:AFP

I wanted to ask him about getting the kids involved in his training session, but introduced the question by saying “we saw a different side of you today”.

“What do you mean by different?” he countered, with good reason because he hadn’t shown a “different” side. It was different to me because I’d only seen his matches on TV and read about the blow-ups. By the end of the week I realised that’s who he is.

It happened again last night when another journalist asked how working with Hewitt had helped the “mental side” of his game. “Out there you can see you saying, ‘well played’ and those sorts of things (to his opponent) — has that been helping you?” the journalist asked.

“To be honest, I’ve been doing that my whole life,” Kyrgios responded. “I’ve been calling others on their good shots. That’s never changed.”

From what I saw this week, it was true, and I can understand why he gave a slightly prickly answer.

I’d certainly hate for Kyrgios to become a robot. No one drew bigger crowds to the show courts this week while they were hitting up and there’s a reason for it.

There’s also a reason his match was on Rod Laver Arena on Friday night and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was shunted to Margaret Court Arena.

Article Source: Jai Bednall –

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