Tennis Prose



Nick Kyrgios: Biggest Waste of Talent in Tennis History?

By Scoop Malinowski

No player has dazzled the world with a combination of power, speed, huge serving and tennis magic as stunningly as Nick Kyrgios. The amazing Aussie is so formidable on the court that he managed to defeat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic the first times he played each.

But when a talent is so massively developed in certain areas, it’s natural that this talent could be extremely flawed and weak and underdeveloped in certain other areas.

It’s become clear by now that Kyrgios can play with the very best at their peak and he can beat any man, with his nuclear serving and lethal groundstrokes especially the forehand. But it’s also clear by now that Kyrgios doesn’t always feel like playing or summoning the highest level of his tennis skillset. Sometimes he’d just prefer to play around without the extra burden of dealing with pressure and expectations. Not unlike how a stealth hunter cat sometimes likes to just play with his helpless prey for personal pleasure and amusement.

There have been many examples of wasted talents in pro tennis – Marcelo Rios, Alberto Mancini, David Nalbandian, Marat Safin to name a few. What sets the 23 year old Kyrgios apart from these players is that he has not even come close to winning a major title or a Masters 1000 title.

At least Rios, for all his faults as a competitor in the later years of his career, became ATP world no. 1 and reached the Australian Open final at age 22 and he won four Masters Series titles. As talented as Rios was, the elite players of his era felt the Rios game lacked the necessary power and top notch serve to consistently beat the elites. Sampras said he always felt the Rios game lacked “heft.” Sampras was 2-0 vs Rios. Rios also had great difficulty with certain other elite players, particularly Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Jiri Novak, Lleyton Hewitt, which proved that Rios had limitations at the elite echelon. Rios was great but he had a ceiling and was unable to subdue certain elite players.

Kyrgios does not have limitations, he has shown he can beat anyone and everyone – when he is mentally and physically up for the task. The problem is the majority of the time, Kyrgios, for whatever reasons in his mental make up, can’t inspire himself to evoke the extraordinary gifts he has inside. One tennis expert recently said he thinks the reason Kyrgios underachieves is because he’s actually afraid of losing and by tanking, it allows him the security of knowing he lost because he didn’t try, which is more acceptable than losing because he wasn’t good enough.

Maybe deep down Nick doesn’t believe he is good enough. In my new book Facing Marat Safin, one player told me he practiced with Safin shortly after his historic US Open win in 2000 and Safin was struggling with all the expectations of him to take over and dominate the sport like the next young
Pete Sampras. Safin actually admitted, “Everybody tells me I should be no. 1. Maybe I’m not good enough.”

Perhaps Kyrgios feels the same way as young Safin did?

Like Safin, Kyrgios is without a doubt, a tennis genius. And as it’s been said, “All genius is touched by madness.”

We will just have to wait and see if Kyrgios can sort out his inner madness and genius foibles and let the side we all want to see take over and dominate. Because he’s just too fine a player to be tagged with the label “the biggest waste of talent in tennis history.”

We all want to see Nick live up to his potential and expectations and be tagged with a different label: “One of the great champions of tennis history and future Hall of Famer.”

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  • catherine · August 10, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Re credentials – there are many many websites and obviously they can’t all be given credentials to the major tournaments. This is a constant refrain at W’don every year, as I know from a friend of mine here. The AEC is also thinking about restricting the overall number of media credentials.

    And although I mainly grew up in the era before the internet and social media, I am now always aware, maybe to the extent of paranoia, that someone, somewhere, is reading what I write, what sites I click on, what Youtubes I watch, which Amazon books I look at, etc etc. In my view all this makes us less free, even in the realm of respectable journalism, but that’s the world we live in.

    I’d prefer no one on the internet hides behind anonymity but that’s a faint hope. You can’t legislate for that. I admit to writing something under a pseudonym but not because I was ashamed of it or because it was abusive. I just got sick of my name.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 10, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Wonder what the reason was for the rejection, our alexa numbers have shot up in the last month and we have more visitors than tennisgrandstand, tennisreportersnet, and tennispanorama. And we are very close to Dan I think we should dispute this decision. Our alexa numbers have shot up since Wimbledon and our coverage has been more comprehensive. We are not just a blog site, we cover tennis totally differently than the rest and that is our appeal. We broke the story that Zverev was working with Lendl and nobody else got that story. We share a lot of information that no other site is able to. Maybe we should ask our dear readers to stand up for us and contact the usta. Or you know what? We don’t need a credential, we can cover the US Open in our own special way, without one, which would prove we are a one of a kind unique site than stands out from the rest.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 10, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Dan. I won’t get into it here but you can learn a lot from Scoops Twitter account. I suggest you check it out.

    I don’t have social media because I don’t want the lefties to control my messages.

    Kyrgios update: He is taking his tennis to a new level. Posted on social media riding a roller coaster with Murray.

  • catherine · August 10, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Scoop-I wouldn’t bother disputing the decision. These people make their own rules.

    These days you can cover any tournament, just about, without being on-site. Few people could tell the difference. (I used to do it when we had no funds for travel.)

    One thing I would say, although T-P has a lot of visitors (I don’t know what alexa numbers are) there are not that many regular posters. I don’t know if it makes any difference.

  • catherine · August 10, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    I don’t mean you pretend you’re at a tournament. You just cover it in a different way. As you suggest.

  • catherine · August 10, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Sloane currently cruising v Sevastova. Could be the change she’s looking for.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Catherine, it can be done. Covering an event while sitting at home. In fact a hockey writer who covered the NY Rangers got caught skipping a trip to Detroit in mid winter to cover a game from home. He lost his job. Most of the tennis writers stay inside the media centers and cafeteria and interview rooms and never go out to see matches! I’d say the majority stay indoors. Myself and Dan are warriors, we go out and watch as many matches as possible. We see things that go unnoticed and report to you. Like Fognini going to the bathroom from court 12 twice during a five setter vs Gabashivili and taking his Babolat along with him for the trek! The Larcher De Brito qualis match where she was crying on court between points. The Rios-Arazi practice of amazing trick shots. Rafa signing every autograph after a practice on Armstrong and then going over the railing and walking through the crowd to sign more, with no security! We have witnessed and reported these exclusives that most of the media missed. These are just a fraction.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 10, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Kyrgios is enjoying the life on the pro tour on his terms, he’s doing it his way. He’s not cut out to be a ruthless, self sacrificing machine who only lives for matches and winning. He’s enjoying his life and he plays his hardest when he gets the urge, other times he’s coasting. It’s not a full sprint 24-7 for Nick, he’s going at his own leisurely pace. Think I’m beginning to understand. If he starts off a match poorly he just destroys the match and starts over the next tournament. Rios was known for doing this, like an artist who starts a painting and if he doens’t like how it has started he just destroys the canvas and starts another one. Rios and Kyrgios are tennis artists.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 10, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Good artist analogy Scoop.

    I agree with Catherine. Cover the Open without being there. You can do it. Not surprised the leftist tennis media disapproves of the site. It’s a shame. Not much tennis coverage in the U.S. so they should welcome you.

  • Joe Blow · August 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm


    Hang in there, in a few years your son will give you a Dad laminate, and you can guest Scoop in

  • Hartt · August 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Did anyone else watch the Sascha Zverev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas match? Sascha was cruising and everyone thought he would win the match easily. Then about half way through the 2nd set Stefanos came to life. it almost seemed like he had reached that point of nothing to lose, and just started playing with more freedom. He won a long TB, and Sascha seemed tight.

    Then, surprisingly, given how the match started, Stefanos won! He made some terrific points in the third, although both players had many UFEs as well. In the on-court interview the youngster was at a loss for words at first. He turns 20 in a couple days.

    So, at the Rogers Cup Stefanos has won over Thiem, Djokovic and now Zverev.

    This morning I said on another site that I had added Stefanos to my treats-eligible list. He has to win a title to warrant my having a treat, so it may not happen at this tourney. But that title may happen in the near future!

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 10, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    The prince let us know he will soon be king, Hartt. I think you better start your diet now because Tsitsipas will be giving you a lot of treats to be eating in the next five years 🙂

  • Jg · August 10, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    That’s not right, you guys should get credentials for the Open, I mean it’s not like there’s great tennis journalism out there beside the Times and I assume some foreign outlets. You really need to scoop them this year. I’ll represent you pro bono to secure the credentials!

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 10, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Thanks jg, we may have to do that. Will try to find out if any lower ranked sites obtained media credentials over us. Or if the USTA is closing the door on most tennis web sites.

  • catherine · August 11, 2018 at 2:22 am

    Scoop – wouldn’t be surprised if the latter is the case as websites are proliferating and some are obviously good and some aren’t. Anyone can set up a website and ask for a credential.

    You’re right about reporters – they can stay in their comfort zone of press room, restaurant, bar, tv, interview transcripts – the lot. Need never see a minute’s live tennis. Or a live player come to that 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 11, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Some reporters never stray outside of Ashe, they stick to the comforts of inside Ashe, cafe, interview room and media center, some I have never seen outside at a court watching a match. More than a few. But then again, some reporters don’t even play tennis, they never play.

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