Tennis Prose



AO Reflections: New & Improved Nick Kyrgios Powers On


By Jayita Belcourt

In front of a packed Rod Laver arena crowd on Friday night, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios has shown not only is he a force to be reckoned with, but one to inspire the world too. With Hollywood star Will Smith watching courtside, it took the 22 year-old just over 3 hours to despatch his 3rd round French opponent, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5).

Not a usual day in the office for the brash Aussie, candidly admitting his elation and surprise at having his idol peering on.

“That was amazing. No joke, he’s [Will Smith] like my favourite actor. I get asked if one person were acting your life, I’d always pick him,” Kyrgios said. “When I saw him out here, I was so nervous. No joke. People think I’m cool, but I wanted him to think I was the coolest person ever.”

“It was surreal seeing him tonight. You know, I was talking to him in the third set. I kept looking at him.”
It seems having Hollywood royalty on-site payed off for the young Aussie (perhaps the AO organisations should consider getting Smith courtside more often!) Not only was Kyrgios brilliant on-court, firing down 28 aces, clocking a 220km serve down the T, and climbing back from 2-5 in the 4th set tie-breaker to secure the match, but Kyrgios was stunningly calm, composed and focused. There were few on-court antics, no tantrums spats or towel throws as we have so often seen in the past.

Yes finally, it seems one of Australia’s most hated tennis players has settled down and found his groove. And the boy with so much talent and potential – is bearing fruit – showing he’s now a real grand-slam champion contender we all knew he could be.
Alas, praise for the young Aussie could be felt far and wide. Journalist James Matthey who writes for Australian media giant summed it up nicely.

“I came to the Australian Open no huge fan of Kyrgios, but after sitting through his 7-6,4-6,7-6,7-6 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga… I was faced with a truth I could no longer deny. I was powerless to stop myself rooting for the Aussie – and so was everyone else.”

Australian grand slam champion, Pat Catch was also impressed with the world no. 17, tweeting “Congratulations @NickKyrgios on an excellent match against the always tough @tsonga7. Brilliant shot making and competing! A pleasure to watch.” In unison, American tennis great Jim Courier believes Kyrgios has reached a turning point in his career and it will only be a matter of time before Kyrgios catapults into the inner circles of the tennis world’s elite.

“I think this whole Aussie summer feels like it’s been a pivotal point for him… He’s got stability off the court and that’s maybe helping him being mentally stable on the court and he’s handling adversity in a better way … and that’s maturity,” said Courier. His words echoed his prediction at Australia’s victory over USA Davis Cup in April 2017 where he stated “You see when he’s [Nick] engaged and focused and concentrating and resilient… that’s a player who should be top five in the world.”

The childhood idol of Kyrgios, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also believes Kyrgios can go deep in the tournament but needs to keep on track with his pursuit of victory, just like everyone else.

“He’s a good player, yeah… With his game already, he can do some damage. We never know,” the French Veteran shared. “The most important in tennis I think is to believe (in it). I think he’s got it. So that is the most important. After that, he need, of course, like everybody, he need to work. I mean, like us. I’m 33 — 32, sorry, soon 33. But it’s like me. I’m a tennis player and I’ll always want to do better… Always to be at this level, you need to think like this, otherwise you don’t play,” Tsonga said after his defeat.

So how far can the Aussie rising star go? Up next he faces a very focused and determined Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 16. Should he win, the world no.17 will achieve a career-high ranking of no.12. Surprisingly, Dimitrov has struggled with form this tournament so I think if Kyrgios, having recently beaten the Bulgarian at the Brisbane International to claim his first ATP title on home soil, can hold his composure and dish out his best shots, will be a strong favorite to win.

One thing is for sure – all eyes will be eagerly watching!

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  • Michael in UK · January 21, 2018 at 5:52 am

    On Eurosport UK tv Mats Wilander talking about the huge additional pressure on players from the home nation in slams. Gave credit to Murray for winning 2 Wimbledons, and seemed to be saying/implying that was as much an achievement as Nadal winning 10 at Roland Garros.

    How will that pressure affect Kyrgios in match against Dimitrov?

  • catherine · January 21, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Well, obviously it may not have helped Nick since since Dimitrov won. But I doubt the pressure had much to do with the result. Pretty close. I think Kyrgios can shut that stuff out in the heat of battle.

    BTW, I wish someone would put a padlock on Kerber’s mouth. Stop her mouthing off on tv in the middle of the tournament.She should be preparing for her match.

    Probably the media people asked other players and, being sensible, they all said no.

    Angie’s doing well but that’s the kind of thing which eventually got her into trouble last year. She seems to have this need for public love and affirmation.

  • Hartt · January 21, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    That match between Dimitrov and Kyrgios was highly entertaining. It was very close, with I think Grigor having 1 more point than Nick. Grigor played much better than he had earlier in the tourney and was the better player in key moments. But both guys made some incredible shots – you never knew what could happen next.

  • catherine · January 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Yes – maybe that’s a potential rivalry building up. Could do with new one in the men’s game.

  • jg · January 21, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    I’m watching the Schwartzman Nadal replay, I know Nadal wins but Schwartzman appears to be out hitting Nadal, going for every shot, ea not your Harold Solomon 5 foot 6 player, surely the modern version.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Michael I just think Dimitrov wants it more. He is showing some new facial expressions and fist pumps and lion roars that he did not years ago. He used to be more of a gentleman player, very nice, but now he’s showing a feisty, ferocious vicious edge, not bad not mean, but just business. To win a major you have to get down and dirty. “To be the best at anything you have to get blood on your hands.” – Philip Anselmo. Dimitrov simply has to summon his beast mode and show everyone and the opponent how much he wants it. He’s suffered enough. It’s his time and he deserves to win it right now. Kyrgios is still young and has not suffered nearly as much as Dimitrov has. I think Dimitrov is doing and showing everything to win this first major title in a few days.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    Catherine, Kerber is the best player in the world at the moment. She can express some arrogance and cockiness, she deserves to. When you got it flaunt it. Let everyone know how confident you are. She’s doing it her way and it’s a proven successful way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    jg; Schwartzman has some weird easy power. Like Lauren Davis. Schwartzman has the strange power and capacity to blast great players off the court – I saw him blast Ferrer off the court in Miami last year 61 62. Schwartzman just keeps going up and up and only a fool would try to put a ceiling on what he can achieve. Yeah, he can be top 5. Put that in your pipe and smoke it 🙂

  • catherine · January 22, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Scoop – I don’t think Angie is arrogant. She gets on a high when she’s winning but I’d be interested to see how she copes when she loses, as she eventually will.
    It’s better if she lets her racquet do the talking. Otherwise all we get are the usual platitudes in her mangled English.

  • catherine · January 22, 2018 at 3:26 am

    Actually I think Angie is quite vulnerable – she’s been swept away in the past with all the attention etc which comes with success but as we saw last year the reverse of the coin was hard for her to deal with.

    She said something interesting after her USO win in 2016 and her ascent to No 1 (or ‘the top end player’ as she endearingly expressed it) – she wrote on her Twitter : ‘Job done. Stage created’.

    Exactly what kind of stage and how she was planning to perform on it was possibly unclear to her at the time and didn’t become any clearer as 2018 unfurled. Of course her only stage is the tennis court but that may have escaped her attention for a while.

  • catherine · January 22, 2018 at 4:25 am

    I mean ‘2017’ – 2018 hasn’t started too badly 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 22, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Kerber vulnerable? She makes everyone else vulnerable. As marvelous and overshadowing as Hsieh’s performance was, Kerber deserves even more credit for enduring and then eventually overcoming the Hsieh Hurricane. What a gutsy display by Kerber.

  • catherine · January 22, 2018 at 8:52 am

    She is vulnerable to things off court and to ups and downs on court.

    I wouldn’t call Hsieh a Hurricane – she’s a good touch player, not a power player, and has exactly the kind of game to bother Angie because it’s not a style you come across much in women’s tennis now.

    And I do believe that if Hsieh hadn’t lacked stamina when it came down to the third set, she would have won.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 22, 2018 at 8:58 am

    I saw a lot of winners blast off Hsieh’s Yonex so she has power but it’s overshadowed by her unbelievable touch and variety. She has power. But she is physically disadvantaged, she has the body smaller than most junior girl players. But her special talent and court intelligence are extraordinary. Kerber played a super match to overcome Hsieh last night and I’m sure it will only make her more sharp and confident vs Keys though it remains to be seen if she can subdue Keys who is on a serious roll right now too.

  • catherine · January 22, 2018 at 9:20 am

    As you said once recently I think, Yonex are becoming a big presence. Angie is playing with a new Yonex model too.
    Although I saw a comment on Youtube which said Hseih’s racquet wasn’t a Yonex – so I don’t know.



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