Nick Kyrgios: The Livewire Threatening To Short Circuit

If this young impala cannot be tamed, his tennis career will blow a fuse before it’s even come alight

Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala released its third studio album ‘Currents’ on July fifteenth last year. The offering was met by overwhelming critical acclaim in Australia, The United States and The UK, even though the material contained within it is not necessarily written with mainstream audiences in mind. Primary band member Kevin Parker seems to have found a successful musical formula which is at once both emotionally charged and tightly controlled. “Nearly every proper song on Currents is a revelatory statement of Parker’s range and increasing expertise as a producer, arranger, songwriter, and vocalist while maintaining the essence of Tame Impala” said Ian Cohen of Pitchfork, who gave the album a ‘best new music’ designation in 2015.

Interesting parallels exist between Kevin Parker and professional tennis player Nick Kyrgios. Hailing from the same part of the world, the two men are entertainers approaching the peaks in their respective careers. Both appear to be individuals and seem to thrive on those tags given to them by their devotees. Seemingly, however, that is where the professional similarities between the two Aussies end.

When Parker was enjoying the initial wave of acclaim brought about by his skilfully-crafted work on Currents, compatriot Kyrgios was smarting over a 4th-round Wimbledon exit after squandering chances to go further in the tournament against the experienced campaigner Richard Gasquet. 2015 had been a breakout year for the 20-year-old rising star, a period in which he reached a second grand slam quarterfinal and his maiden ATP final, all from a career-high ranking of 25 in the world. But Kyrgios fell out of the top 40 after his underwhelming exit at SW19 and the second half of the year seemed to cancel out all of the promise of the first. The prodigious firestarter didn’t kick on and it seemed to be a case of ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, a criticism Kyrgios is already accustomed to in his fledgling career and also the title of the last track on Currents.

Histrionics and childish antics aside, Nick Kyrgios is undoubtedly a tennis player of rich potential who is capable of producing sporadic moments of dazzling quality. The problem he faces now is that his on-court behaviour has incorporated that off it to the extent that they are inextricably linked and codependent. For every flamboyant shot that forces incredulous spectators out of their seats at big tournaments, there is a verbal slur about a fellow professional’s personal life or a self-deprecating verbal tantrum to detract from it. Where Parker exhibits raw emotion offset by discipline and artistic control, Kyrgios wears his heart on his Nike sleeves and makes sure that every single expensive camera and microphone on centre court knows about it. If Nicholas Hilmy Kyrgios fails to add subtlety to the other formidable gifts and strings in his bow, plainly put, his hunt for major success will not bear fruit in a wild and unforgiving sporting circuit.

His latest failure on the big stage came four days ago at the hands of the ever-consistent Tomáš Berdych (who has subsequently been dumped out of the tournament in Melbourne by Roger Federer). Kyrgios’ third-round exit to the Czech was a neat microcosm of the player and the person. It was a performance peppered by outrageous shots (Kyrgios later retweeted a fan’s video on Twitter) but ultimately punctuated by complaints he leveled at the umpire about music in the crowd and underlined by another disappointing defeat at a major.

As the sun sets on Australia Day 2016, those in the Nick Kyrgios camp will be hoping that ‘The Moment’ will soon come when the new super brat of tennis ‘Eventually’ becomes a man. Kyrgios’ insistence upon swimming upstream might just sap him of the energy required to mount a serious assault for honours at the top table of tennis.