by Rajagopalan Rohinee
In the end, Nick Kyrgios made it look easy in his straight-set title-win over Alexander Zverev in Acapulco. And just like that, he shifted the narrative from how he made his life difficult on-court with his behavioral eccentricities to how effortless he made it seem, as if to reinforce the credibility of his talent all over again. But the takeaway is, did Kyrgios intend for the latter to happen? And, if he did, would he stick with this in the upcoming events or revert to what had been his type (until before Acapulco)?
But the thing is – it does not matter either way. So, when there is talk about him replicating his recent results further along the way or of him living up to his prodigious capabilities, there is a passing over of external expectations onto him. This also creates unnecessary and unwanted obligations for him to do well so as to fulfil promises invoked under his name by the audiences – thereby creating a vicious cycle of presumptions and disappointments.
Come to think of it, then, Kyrgios has had no part to play in this cyclical display of unfulfilled expectations. All along, while these have played around him – since he first defeated Rafael Nadal at 2014 Wimbledon – he has been true to himself. In trying to make him change, to make him conform to stipulations – well-established and therefor, expected – the audiences are doing him a disservice and yet again, piling up their notion of an ideal player on his shoulders.
Contextually, then, Kyrgios is no different to other people – in everyday life – with ebbs and flows to match. A random someone finds it harder to make it to his line of work, or finds innumerable faults with it. Yet, there is a dogged continuance in the same work in order to prioritise other aspects of the said someone’s life. Because that is how it has to be. So, why is it surprising when Kyrgios – a youngster – cribs and mouths off about his profession and yet, finds a way to make it work, when he does? If this were not enough, with Kyrgios’ each achievement, a parallel develops in which not only his performance but also his persona is dissected.
After his win in Acapulco, Kyrgios admitted that there were changes he needed to bring about enhance his career. “I’m very lucky to be in this position. I need to be way more disciplined, way better professionally and do the right things. I don’t even have a coach, so maybe I start there,” Kyrgios said, while sharing that he had been jet-skiing a few hours before playing the final. What he said and he choose to do proved Kyrgios’ contradictoriness. As it showed well-established precedents – not only set by other players in the sport but also in general, in life – had their limits, and their exceptions.
In fairness, it would be wrong to say that these quirks would work each time. But in sport as in life, nothing is a given. Wins and losses are par for the course, and for each time Kyrgios has been (rightfully called out) for his lack of efforts, observers also need to equally righteously appreciate his committed performances while letting him be. Tennis needs its share of mercurialness and it would be a poorer place without Kyrgios in it.