At the tender age of just twenty, tennis star Nick Kyrgios has already established himself as the badboy of the sport following a series of controversial incidents which has seen him lash out multiple times at umpires, spectators, and to the press.
In return, the world of tennis has lashed out at the Australian, labelling him as arrogant and claiming the Australian Open semi-finalist has a very poor attitude.
Despite earning a reputation for arrogance and contempt, his controversial antics have appeared to win over one or two tennis fans, who seem to enjoy the entertaining presence of a hot-tempered Australian tennis ace.
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However, other fans, who appear to be less-than impressed by some of the youngsters actions, have expressed sincere disgust at Krygios' attitude having discovered the Canberran's cruder side.
The star’s fiery personality was particularly brought to light during this year’s Wimbledon championships, which has seen the Aussie allegedly label chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani as “dirty scum”, and sarcastically question him on whether sitting in the umpire’s chair makes him feel strong after the official refused to talk to the youngster.
This was followed by a display of potentially hazardous racquet smashing, a threat to discontinue when demanding the presence of the tournament referee, receiving code violations for cursing, and aggressively challenging a reporter to return a Richard Gasquet serve in a post-match press conference after being accused of deliberately not trying following his loss to the Frenchman.
The reporter’s accusation followed an incident in the second set when Kyrgios appeared to deliberately walk away as Gasquet’s serve flew past him, before tamely stroking the ball directly into the net in a careless manner following another serve from the Frenchman, who himself was penalised for racquet abuse.
Despite the twenty year-old’s Wimbledon tantrums, the youngster’s hot temper long predates his spell in SW19, as this year’s Australian Open also witnessed similar antics from the Canberra man – this time towards fans – as the Aussie yelled “get off your f****** phone” upon spotting a spectator using his mobile device, before three spectators were abrasively asked where they were going when attempting to vacate their seats.
Admittedly, some of Kyrgios’ stroppy stunts have overstepped the mark with regard to acceptability, but is the global character bashing of the young Aussie at all justifiable considering the countless athletes that have resorted to unthinkable extremities when attempting to curb their emotions?
Need the infamous antics of the iconic John McEnroe and Andre Agassi be mentioned? Or perhaps Serena Williams, who practically handed the Championship-winning point to Kim Clijsters in the final of the 2009 US Open after hurling abuse at a line judge and, of course, a certain miss Victoria Azarenka, who also remains partial to disfiguring her racquet and using inappropriate language when frustrated?
Although their attitudes have been strongly condemned when behaving in such a manner, the aforementioned players have not been subjected to the same level of worldwide scrutiny as Kyrgios for their actions.
This is not to condone such behaviour; as professional athletes and role models to aspiring youngsters, it is vital that all tennis stars maintain composure and act with grace and decorum on the court.
At the same time, they are also competitive and emotional human beings in a high-pressure sport with a lot riding on their performance, which must be highly stressful on the shoulders of a twenty year-old – some players will cope better with the stress than others.
Like many other tennis professionals of the past and present, Kyrgios is blessed with an incredible talent for the sport and possesses bags of potential, but the youngster is still new to the world of senior tennis; although it may take some time for the Australian’s attitude to mellow, there is every reason to believe his talent will prevail over his temper, as was the case with McEnroe and Agassi.
From a less moral perspective, the fiery and rebellious nature of players such as Kyrgios have helped re-position the image of tennis from a sport that has warranted complaints about players with little or no personality to a sport that has become more encapsulating as a result of fiery confrontations and the dramatic clashing of the big egos when combined with highly skilful tennis.