The Talented and Terrible Nick Kyrgios

June 28, 2016 — Love him or hate him Nick Kyrgios is a force and he’s here to stay. 

The 21-year-old Aussie and 15th seed showed off his stuff this morning, taking down 37-year-old wildcard Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-1. The second-round encounter could’ve been cut short by a set had Nick decided to get down to brass tacks. 

But that’s Nick. 

Murray vs. Kyrgios US Open 20150901 LB 0191-2

Nick Kyrgios at the U. S. Open, 2015. He lost here to Andy Murray.
Photo credit Leslie Billman

“I knew it was going to be tough,” Kyrgios said afterward. “To be honest, that’s a nightmare first round for anyone at Wimbledon. I could pick 90 guys in the draw that I would have rather played.”

Kyrgios and Stepanek are friends off court and had a warm greeting at the net, afterward. The Czech legend has offered to help coach Nick, even though the relationship would be a rocky one. Nick’s just that way. He makes life rough for people who try to help him.

“Kyrgios doesn’t have a regular coach,” Peter Flemming, calling the match for ESPN, said. “He doesn’t believe in super coaches.”

Kyrgios also makes life rough for any chairperson unlucky enough to be on court any given match day. Veteran Chairperson Mohamed Lahyani leveled a code conduct violation against Kyrgios today for bad language, after losing the third set tiebreak. ESPN reported, “He used industrial language.” Wimbledon’s website reported that he said, ‘bull s**t.’ But Nick was the master of his own undoing. He had the match on his racquet at 5-4 and blew it. Thus, his friend Stepanek stepped in. 

“It was not a bad word,” Kyrgios said. “I’m pretty sure we’ve all said it in this room.”

Bratty, indignant, and downright wiggy, Kyrgios ranted to his box at every changeover but with more fervor after that third set loss. Mind you, the box cannot rant back at their lad. That's probably okay with Nick. He wouldn’t listen anyway.

Take away all that facade — foul language, hands-on-hips, radical hair cuts — and you find an exceptionally talented player who advanced to the fourth round last year. He lost to Richard Gasquet on the same court he played on today, after being up and in control. At least Kyrgios concentrated after his missed opportunity today. 

“To steady the ship like that, to respond in the fourth set, that’s pretty good,” Kyrgios said. 

“He’s the read deal,” Aussie legend Fred Stolle said, calling the match for ESPN. “It’s only his third time here. His temperament on and off court is a danger for him at times. I think he has matured, but he has to concentrate on what’s between the four lines. Otherwise you lose that concentration. He has shots and firepower and an explosive forehand. He comes up with miraculous shots. Yet, he should have a bit more respect for the game.”

Nick, like all Aussies, draw ‘fanatics’ to their courts. Cameras pick them up all dressed in green and yellow t-shirts, funky matching hats, and face makeup. Their chants fuel their countrymen. 

“Let’s go Nicky, let’s go. Let’s go Nicky, let’s go,” they yelled at their favorite son. 

“The fanatics help,” Stolle added, when considering how Nick needs better concentration on court. “They began with Leyton Hewitt and Nick knows that.”

Kyrgios whacked 25 aces over the four sets and only 2 double faults. Stepanek served a miserable 6 double faults, which did nothing for his confidence or rhythm. However he scored 76% of points on his first serve while Kyrgios earned only 72%. In what many call the more important stat, Kyrgios outpaced Stepanek on points won on his second serve: 60% compared to 48%. And, they hit almost the same number of winners: 48 for Kyrgios and 45 for Stepanek. The match was closer than the score indicated, which is normally the case.

Next up for Kyrgios is Dustin Brown. 

“That’ll be entertaining because Brown throws himself all over the court,” ESPN said. 

Brown is a dedicated serve-and-volley player, so Kyrgios better practice targets. Because the German plays a style that some call ‘old school,’ he can get under opponent’s skin because he’s always on the offense and not from the baseline where most young players launch their attacks. 

Last year, Brown shut down Rafael Nadal in the second round making it four consecutive years that the Spaniard had not advanced to the second week. At the time, Brown was ranked outside the top 100. This year he’s ranked No. 85. That spells improvement. Kyrgios, though, defeated Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2014, too, and is seeding went from No. 19 to No. 15 this year.  

Get your strawberries and cream ready for this first-ever match-up. Not only will the shot-making thrill but the hairstyles alone will be a contrast in style. Nick with his clipped and hip do. Dustin with his dreadlocks. 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013