A few words about Nick Kyrgios
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past two weeks, you’re well aware of ATP Tennis star Nick Kyrgios’ on court antics he displayed against Mischa Zverev. If you’ve followed the story at all. You may also be familiar with Kyrgios’ post-match interview where he openly admitted to taking the night off, tanking the match in spectacular fashion. He also produced this gem of a quote when asked about his fans watching his performance. “I don’t owe them anything. It’s my choice. If you don’t like it, I didn’t ask you to come watch. Just leave. If you’re so good at giving advice and so good at tennis, why aren’t you as good as me?”
I’ve mentioned in the past how late night tennis is my guilty pleasure. This past months tour stops in Asia has given me every reason to indulge in my sport of choice. Unlike most of the opinions you will find regarding Nick Kyrgios, I’ve actually been watching him play. I saw the kid put in a dominating week of tennis where went on to knock off 37th ranked Gilles Muller, followed by an easy 6–4, 6–4 victory over 7th ranked Gael Monfils. He was rewarded for his efforts a day later when he bested 12th ranked David Goffin, 2 sets to 1, winning the Tokyo Open. The win over Goffin was Nick Kyrgios’ 4th ATP tour title this year.
After playing three matches in three days in Japan, Kyrgios found himself in Shanghai a day later. By the time Kyrgios was set to face Mischa Zverev, it was his fifth match in six days, played across two countries and fresh off his latest tour victory. The backdrop is important because if you’ve ever bet tennis, you understand the importance in player fatigue when handicapping matches. We in the tennis betting community lick our chops when it comes to fading a heavy favorite during the early rounds in the next tournament they play in after winning the week prior. Professional tennis players book their tour schedule months in advance. Like weddings, these things need RSVPs. Players also play for tour points along with prize money. Tour points affect the players ranking, so it is not uncommon for a player to win a tournament, then bow out gracefully in the early rounds of the next one. Kyrgios continues to fail at the bow out gracefully part.
Leaving the next tournament early, after a player wins the one before, serves two purposes. The player uses the early exit to rest is the obvious answer. The other is by leaving the tournament early, the player isn’t forced to defend those tour points the following year. In fact, if the player advances past their previous years finish, they can actually gain tour points. So it is smart to pad your ranking after a big win by dropping out early in the next tournament just in case the player isn’t able to defend that tour victory the following year. The player is able to make up those lost tour points by performing better in the tournament they casually dropped the ball on the year prior.
This is common practice in tennis. It is called, playing the rankings, or playing points.
Nick Kyrgios is a brat. Most tennis stars are. Before Novak Djokovic was Novak Djokovic, he was labeled as a tennis brat, with outbursts similar to that of Kyrgios’. Just this past Saturday morning, in the same tournament that received national coverage after Kyrgios tanked. Novak lost his semifinal match to Bautista-Agut in straight sets 6–4, 6–4. In that match, Djokovic argued with the Chair Umpire, violently smashed his racket and even tore his shirt doing his best Hulk impression. Yet it is Kyrgios who has just been urged to seek mental health counseling by the ATP. I’m well aware of Kyrgios’ long history of sticking his foot in his mouth but he isn’t crazy. Nick Kyrgios’ only problems are his lack of knowing how to be subtle and not knowing when to shut up.
For every unwritten rule there is in baseball, tennis has just as many. One of them being, if you aren’t going to bring your A game, act as if you are. And in a sport that struggles to attract new viewers, it’s never a good practice to alienate and openly disrespect the paying fan base. Kyrgios did both. His tanking is no different than of what any of the top tour players do, Novak included. They are just more subtle about it. Tennis season for the players is a marathon, we seem to lose sight of that. The sports public is spoon fed Majors and nothing more. Nick Kyrgios has played some amazing tennis this year, unfortunately the only time he makes Sports Center is when the kid is having a 21 year old self-induced meltdown. Nobody cares when tennis stars other than the ones named Federer, Nadal, Murray, Djokovic or Serena win. The only time the spotlight is on tennis, outside of major’s season, is when their stars are acting nuts. It’s Kyrgios own fault that the public will remember his outbursts more than his tennis this season, but that doesn’t mean his immature personality should overshadow or discredit his work. Last time I checked, Nick Kyrgios wasn’t involved in any shootings at strip clubs or brought up on charges of domestic violence. I’ve yet to see any videos surface of the kid taking bong hits at a party or claiming he was robbed at gunpoint by a gas station attendant. In a sports culture littered with liars, thieves and thugs, Nick Kyrgios is being painted as an emotionally unstable villain for giving us his brutally honest feelings and telling us the truth.
Author: Christian Cianci