Love him or hate him, there’s no more dynamic character at this year’s Wimbledon than 20-year old Aussie sensation, Nick Kyrgios.
Whether he’s pontificating on the merits of abstaining from pre-match love-making (“I don’t abide by that rule, I don’t abide by that rule at all,” as per the Daily Mirror), discussing his sports preferences (“I don’t really like the sport of tennis that much. I don’t love it. It was crazy when I was 14. I was all for basketball and I made the decision to play tennis. I got pushed by my parents and to this day I can still say I don’t love the sport,” as per The Independent) or berating himself (fans, ball boys or the chair umpire) in the middle of a match, Kyrgios is a walking quote-pull.
Kyrgios (ranked No. 29, ATP) first made a name for himself by beating top-ranked Rafael Nadal in four sets in the fourth round at SW19 in 2014. Then just 19 and ranked just 144th, the Canberran wild card’s run at Wimbledon was ended by Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals. Kyrgios returned to the quarters at the Australian Open earlier in 2015 before falling to Andy Murray in straight sets.
While his demeanor and on-court antics have drawn the ire of some tennis pundits and fans alike — his cursing of a fan at the Australian Open in January did not sit well with some fans within his own country — Kyrgios has more backers than he does detractors.
Among them, John McEnroe, per The Guardian, commenting on this year’s Wimbledon draw: “He is close to being ready to make a big breakthrough if I had to pick one guy. I wouldn’t pick him to win. But I would think, if there was someone other than the obvious guys, he would be the guy that I would pick..”
He also has big-name supporters among his peers including Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer (his diametric opposite in terms of candor on the court), who Kyrgios upset at the Madrid Open back in May. Federer commented to the Sydney Morning Herald after his loss in Madrid:
“He’s got nothing to lose, no fear, and he’s got a great game. He can rely on his serve so much. It keeps him in the match regardless of he how he plays from the baseline.”
Kyrgios has the big serve, the big mouth and the larger-than-life profile to fill up grandstands and column inches alike. His looks and swagger are an easy sell to advertising firms (he’s already a Beats By Dre sponsor) and should The Wild Thing make a deeper run at this year’s Wimbledon fortnight, there’s no doubt he’ll soon be an intercontinental overnight sensation.
Follow Nick on Twitter at nickkygrios.