It’s often quite frustrating when you see a player who undoubtedly has talent but lacks the temperament to make it to the very top of their game. The career of Australian Nick Kyrgios has been littered with such incidents and again it’s surfaced at the Miami Open. His world ranking is rising, though, so could he rid himself of his inner demons and one day become a Grand Slam-winning top ten player?
A poor temperament can limit the success a player has. Take Ilie Nastase for example, a great player who would surely have won more Grand Slams if he hadn’t lost his temper so many times. The same can be said about John McEnroe, an all-time great but one who should have won more titles than he did. Even Ronnie O’Sullivan, one of the greatest ever snooker players, has had to seek help regarding his mental approach to the game.obably never will. Yet here’s a player with great potential, particularly on a grass court. A Wimbledon title can’t be ruled out and he’s 20/1 at Paddy Power to win there this year. To keep himself at the top of his game for a fortnight is a task that looks beyond him. There always seems to be a temper tantrum just around the corner, doesn’t there?
Last year saw him suspended for three weeks for “lack of best efforts” in a game against Mischa Zverev. Future champions don’t go around asking umpires, “Can you call time so I can finish this match and go home?” Later he claimed he doesn’t owe fans anything, so a future career in public relations isn’t that likely.
2017 has been a mixed bag so far for Kyrgios. The Australian Open wasn’t a great experience for him as he lost to Andreas Seppi in the second round, despite leading two sets to love. Kyrgios even considered taking a break from the game. He felt that all the country was against him but help from his family helped change that view.
When a player is on record as saying “I think when things get tough. I’m just a little bit soft,” then you know something has to change. He has sought some help regarding his often appalling mental approach to the game and it looks as if that might be paying off.
His form has improved and he has twice beaten Novak Djokovic, including at Indian Wells on his way to the last eight. Who knows, he might have progressed further but for having to pull out of his quarter-final with Roger Federer (who could teach him a few lessons on how to behave during a game) due to illness. His ranking is up to 16 and due to rise higher, especially if he were to have a good clay court season.
But again, the bad side of his character was shown during the Miami Open. He appeared to reprimand a ball boy during his match with Ivo Karlovic. “How am I supposed to catch that? It’s right at my feet,” the Australian shouted, leading to boos from the crowd. Okay, he made up with the ball boy later but it’s still a sign that his temperament isn’t quite up to scratch.
At the age of 21, Kyrgios is still a work in progress. The talent is there and he could well be a Wimbledon Champion one day, but the fiery Australian still has a lot of maturing to do in the meantime.