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Is this the new Kyrgios?

by GP

Our guest contributor Colan Surratt was very impressed by the Kyrgios beatdown 6-3 6-0 of Andrey Rublev in Miami Masters. He asks himself “Is this the new Kyrgios?”

“He beat Rublev 3 and 0 in less than an hour…everybody else better watch out!” I exclaimed as a buddy showed me Nick Kyrgios’ 2nd round result at the Miami Open on Friday.

I’ve long been a Kyrgios fan. An early morning watching his 2014 Aussie open match against Benoit Paire will always stick in my mind. Paire won in 5 sets, but the Kyrgios talent was apparent. His serve was already a cheat code. I swear he could hit the corners in his sleep. He’d rush through his routine, smack an ace, and barely take 5 seconds before firing another…like he had a time limit of 60 seconds to win a service game. Later that year, his match against Rafa at Wimbledon glued me to the screen. As an eternal Roger Federer fan, I loved seeing Rafa out early at Wimbledon. Nothing personal, just that it helped Roger. So I was cheering at the TV for every ace, tweener, and break of serve. From that moment on, I realized I was a Nick fan too.

Not always easy being a fan

Being a fan of Kyrgios is not without ruts. Incredibly temperamental early on, fellow fans didn’t always accept him: “he doesn’t work hard enough, he’s only got a serve, he’s a jerk.” Whatever. I still liked him. His game is so clean yet flamboyant—confident and calm one second and a fiery tantrum the next. The dichotomy is intoxicating. He comprehends how the game works with lucidity and can construct a game plan for any opponent if he’s locked in mentally. Watching one of his matches is like waiting for a bomb to go off. You’re not sure how long the fuse is, but it’s almost certain to go at some point.

One of the biggest things for Nick’s attitude on court is the way the fans treat him. I’ve seen him implode just because one fan said or did something he found disrespectful — made a distasteful comment, screamed during his serve, cheered a silly error. He went from full effort to a tank job in seconds, saying something along the lines of “I’m out here trying my best, which is what they’ve been asking all along, then they go and do that?”

In a way, I relate to him. My competitive days are behind me, but I sometimes play matches in leagues or tournaments. The occasional over-competitive opponent who hooks on line calls, calls phantom lets on big points, or invests too much in the match, will immediately turn me off. I despise sharing the court with somebody who isn’t there to have fun and be respectful. Unlike Nick, I don’t have the pressure of the media weighing down on me, analyzing every word I say, shot I hit, or fan I interact with. Talk about tough.

A nice guy

Even more than his game, Kyrgios is likable off the court: he makes time to hit with fans or sign autographs, especially for kids. He offered and delivered grocery services during the Covid lockdown. He’s open about his struggles with mental health. He owns his opinions (even though I don’t always agree with them) and faults. The tennis public is often too hard on the man.

I’m interested to see how he’s treated after his nice run of success during the early part of this year. He’s playing like a man with something to prove: AO doubles champ, almost beat Rafa at Indian Wells, and completely dismantled Rublev in Miami. Will the media say “he’s finally trying” or celebrate him for what he is? I hope it’s the latter, and I’m excited to have him back on my TV. Let’s just hope he makes it last for us!

Thanks Colan! Now I’m keen to hear what you think of Kyrgios. Check out other posts about him below.

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