Before you commence reading this article; I am an Australian tennis fan, and as an Australian tennis fan I have been yearning for someone to come and fill the Lleyton Hewitt shaped void on the ATP tour for a long time.
I am a Nick Kyrgios fan. I am a Bernard Tomic fan. I am aware of the fallible nature of these two individuals, and I do not endorse their poor behavior.
But I will root for them as long as their behinds point to the ground, for the love of Aussie tennis.
With that out of the way, there’s something that needs to be discussed about the Australian male number 1. Like any devise issue in sport, it should be able to be discussed freely without any accusations of agenda at play.
Nick Kyrgios just triumphed for the second time on the world tour in Atlanta last week, defeating American number 1 John Isner in the Final.
It’s clear Kyrgios’ natural development and learning curve is starting to take shape. In the next few years he’s going to be a very formidable player, and hopefully before long, a Grand Slam champion.
But in 2016, a Grand Slam was harder to win that it was in 2006, and harder still in than in 1996.
The unprecedented professionalism players such as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have brought to the sport has forced everyone else to raise their standard also.
Djokovic’s life is truly a life lived for tennis. He literally eats, sleeps and breathes the sport, and is deservedly a 12 time Grand Slam champion, and the world number 1.
Taking everything into account, do I believe Nick to be capable of multiple Slams and a noteworthy legacy carved out in tennis history? Potentially, yes. But do I believe in my heart of heats he will achieve it? I’m not sure.
Here are two key things that are, right now, holding Nick Kyrgios back from unleashing his full potential on the rest of the ATP tour. Let’s hope to god this is the only time this article is written.
The most obvious problem Kyrgios posses is his maturity – he is temperamental at the best of times, and his worst need not be mentioned any more than it already is.
On the surface, this may look like another shot at Nicks’ much maligned on and off court antics. But in between the frequent outbursts lies a much deeper problem that is not unique to just the Aussie number 1.
No, the battle within one’s head is one fought by everyone who takes part in an individual sport, and in most matches, Nick Kyrgios only just wins it.
Again, Novak has been the pace setter for this pillar of tennis for some time now. As players such as Andy Murray have found out for years, being a step behind Djokovic in the mental game usually spells disaster in the big matches.
It was not until Murray solicited the help of Ivan Lendl, who had similarly fought hard against and beaten his own monstrous mental demons, that he was able to overcome them himself and achieve his full potential.
Kyrgios will have to cut the tantrums and blow-ups out of his game. This is non-negotiable. But that is only the start in a long, uphill battle against his own mind that all Grand Slam champions must overcome.
Unfortunately however, it may be that the second of his two biggest issues right now is one that is unsolvable, simply for its’ nature.
Nick Kyrgios does not love tennis, he only likes it – and that’s only on his good days.
Kyrgios has repeatedly mentioned that his favourite sport is basketball. That very fact is just about the death knell for any chance Kyrgios has of winning a Grand Slam.
This one does not take a genius – the Andy Murrays and Novak Djokovii of the world tour are not only otherworldly talents, but they are obsessed by tennis.
Tennis shapes every waking and sleeping moment of their lives, and when they are not occupying themselves with tennis, they’re probably on the dunny.
Against the best in the world, you’re instantly behind the eight ball if you’re not at least equally as committed as they are. How could that possibly be the case if you don’t love what you’re doing?
No athlete is faultless in his or her craft or nature. Ask any professional if there is one thing they wish they could improve upon, and you will get an answer 999 times out of 1,000.
It is the will to improve and the absolutely unbridled desire and obsession to get better that separates the good from the great.
It is the fear in the best that it could be an extra hour of training that is the difference maker that keeps them sticking around after the coaches have gone home.
On the surface, I’m not sure Nick Kyrgios has this in him or not. I hope he does. I’ll be rooting for him.