Has Kyrgios Finally Solved His Self-Puzzle?

Facing Marat Safin

Nick Kyrgios is entering a new stage of his career this week at Citi Open in Washington, DC. He is definitely double downing on his extrovertness and putting on a terrific show for the crowds, even interacting with front row fans, asking where to serve on match point and when it works he runs back and hugs the fan.

This is twilight zone sports, Muhammad Ali type originality and humor. The kids and even adults are loving every minute of it. They can’t believe it, but Nick keeps pulling it off. It’s like he’s finally figured out how to fit his square peg into the round hole of pro tennis.

The oddball enigma upset Tsitsipas 64 36 76 at Citi Open with another sensational display of genius tennis mixed with showtime antics, tweeners, 64 miles an hour service winners, hot dog showboating and crowd engagement.

And this expression of his charisma is a natural benefit for his libido. The more he vents and expresses the better it is for his peace of mind and his tennis. The more he turns the tennis arena into his own personal center stage, it makes him the star of the show, all eyes are on Nick. Nick’s antics can even upstage and overshadow Fed, Rafa and Djokovic. That is the power of his personality and magnetism.

Nick has rare special qualities that Fed, Nole and Rafa lack and, I’m sure, secretly admire. Nobody has more fun on the high stakes pressure cooker ATP tennis circuit than Nick. It’s the Kyrgios Show. The problem for the Aussie has been backing it all up with his best tennis. I think Nick has finally figured out the fine line balance. And it’s all coming together this week in Washington.

I predict a Marat Safin like explosion of all time genius tennis, a major masterpiece of brilliance is about to erupt out of the unique, creative tennis volcano that is Nick Kyrgios.

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  • Matty · August 4, 2019 at 1:45 am

    I’ve been at the CitiOpen most of the week. Nick is must watch 🎾. You can’t take your eyes off him – the most talented player in men’s tennis. I didn’t say best, yet, simply most talented. He’s serving huge bombs, striking the ball harder and cleaner than his opponents, and putting on a show of all time squash shots too. It’s just bedlam in DC this week, an entertaining show not seen since the very early Agassi years…the Stephano Adidas delivery tonight – c’mon that’s some prime-time gold!!! Damn, tomorrow’s gonna be fun!!

  • catherine · August 4, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Is this the end of the Big 3 ?

  • Hartt · August 4, 2019 at 2:45 am

    This may indicate a turning point for Nick, but then again it may not. He has played very well in individual tourneys before and everyone began predicting big things for him, but then he regressed to the “old” Nick. I hope he does continue to play well, but I’ll wait until he is in the top 15 before getting too excited. Even that is no guarantee because he has been as high as 13. Going into Washington he was No.52, although this week’s results moved him to No.34 in the live rankings and if he wins he will go to the mid 20s.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Matty, I agree, it’s Nickmania Kyrgiosmania. He is changing the sport business into a new form of entertainment. Kids always lived the rebel act now he’s got adults mesmerized and charmed. He is poised to become the biggest ticket in tennis if he keeps winning. Everybody will talk about this sensation.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 7:25 am

    Catherine, Nickkyrgiosmania could vanquish the big 3 yes.

  • Hartt · August 4, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Scoop, you had the key words: “if he keeps winning.” I think we need to wait and see what happens the rest of the season before declaring him the destroyer of the Big 3!

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Hartt, we are allowed to forecast the future in tennis here. I see Nick putting it all together like Safin and it will be magic like we never saw before.

  • Hartt · August 4, 2019 at 10:18 am

    The future will tell the tale. But a big question mark for Kyrgios is injuries. Even in this match he had a lot of tape on his serving arm and his knee. I just watched the first set and he also was rubbing his back.

    But I am making a note of your prediction to see if you are right. 🙂

  • Jon King · August 4, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Nick is an enigma, back and forth between charisma and nasty. But he is a people person and that is what tennis needs. We ran into him last summer ago at Evert’s academy in Boca Raton. He played king of the court with the kids, taking his place at the back of the line when he tried a trick shot and lost the point. He was absolutely phenomenal with the kids. Frankly thinking about Nick, I was just lamenting how boring women’s tennis has become and needs some personalities. They pretty much all play the same game and rarely try trick shots or interact with ball kids or fans. Watching Kenin and Baptiste and most others walk around totally expressionless. Watching Anisimova and so many other women act like the ball kids are trash, snatching the towels, acting like rude princesses. Even though my daughter and I are deeply interested in women’s tennis, the men’s game of variety, drama, trick shots, interaction with ball kids, fans, each other is so much more fun to watch. The women desperately need some players who do not just stand 4 feet behind the baseline and wait for the other player to make an error, and act like they are miserable when they play. So yeah, Nick is a treat.

  • Harold · August 4, 2019 at 10:47 am

    You see what you want to see, the other night Kyrgios yanked the towel out of the ballwomans hands. She had to be at least 50 years old.
    On another note, Wash. tournament has the worst collection of ball people ever. Almost all the players seem to be freaking a bit due to them

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Jon, there is no better ambassador right now at this minute than Kyrgios. Everybody is buzzing about what is happening at citi open and nicks heroics. Kids love him now even adults are embracing him. Adults have finally figured him out and Nick is in harmony with the connection. Magic is happening.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Lots of tape but no injury timeouts or hint of pain. Probably a pre meditated excuse if he lost. Nick looks 100 percent healthy.

  • Jeff · August 4, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Scoop no one cares about the Citi Open, it is just hype for Nick. Sascha already won back to back and no one cared then but when Nick does something it gets overvalued as far as winning a minor tournament in which the Big 3 do not even enter.

    Nick is a PR genius but he is not that talented. Watch Kei Nishikori – he is the most talented player ever to not win a Slam. Watch his strokes and footspeed. I am constantly amazed by the casual tennis fan how they think hitting the ball hard is some skill. It is meaningless. Kei is also 4-0 against Nick if you think that is impressive. The reason he is 4-0 is because he is more talented.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Yes Nishikori does have a consistent efficient game like Coria but Kyrgios has that range where if he gets into a zone he can zap Kei off the court, Safin style. I assure you, Nick will find that key soon and it will be lights out for the ATP. The Safin like eruption is coming and even Nick won’t be able to harness it. Fed, Rafa and Novak all know how it feels to get annihilated by Nick.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    I disagree about Citi Open being a minor meaningless event. It’s a fine event and one of my favorites. And it is where players emerge and set themselves up for hard court glory. Nick may be acquiring the confidence and self belief to do something major at US Open.

  • catherine · August 4, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    You can’t make up personalities. Kyrgios is unusual at present because his antics, and his talent, attract people and are funny – sometimes – other times just irritating (to me). Women on the whole aren’t like that – they aren’t performing seals and if they did carry on the way Nick does you’d feel there was something fake about it. Believe me, you can tell. Anyone who follows T-P knows how I feel about the women’s game and how much I welcome players who are different and try a more adventurous style – which is why I enjoyed watching McNally play as I wrote on a previous thread. My preferred style is s/v but I accept that’s not coming back now.

    Women on the whole tend to be more subdued – whether it’s cultural expectations or something inborn I don’t know – but I do know that if a woman player does start acting up she will find herself walking a very fine line between applause and vilification. Read some online comments if you want to see the truth of
    that. A woman snatches a towel – she’s a spoiled brat; a man does and no one notices.

    Of course Washington didn’t have a strong women’s draw, never has, and it’s a mystery to me why the WTA doesn’t combine the West and East coast events. And some top ranked players didn’t bother. So no, the draw in DC wasn’t going to be a circus competitively vis a vis the men’s when you throw Kyrgios in the mix.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    The WTA tends to just give you forehands and backhands, nothing extra, just pure tennis but in this entertainment day and age, more is needed and that’s one reason why mens tennis is always drawing and selling bigger numbers than women’s tennis. It’s not quite equal. McEnroe, Connors, Agassi, Nastase, Hewitt, Safin, Goran gave the public more than just tennis, there are few comparable women outside of Serena, Hingis, Capriati, Kournikova, Gaby.

  • catherine · August 4, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Scoop – women are realists, they give you ‘pure tennis’ because anything else is just posturing and most decent women players don’t want to do that, or can’t. And you mix up ‘entertainment’ with attractiveness, being sexy etc. Kournikova wasn’t that good in tennis terms but most of her fans were men and they weren’t there for the tennis. And Gaby ? Do you mean Sabatini ? She gave nothing on court and not much off it – which isn’t to say she’s not a very nice person and was an exceptional player.

    And there’s that double standard – look at the stuff Kerber pulled down on herself with that ‘drama queen’ bit – in the men’s game no one would’ve batted an eyelid.

    You can’t blame women for their natures – maybe we should just concentrate on the tennis when women play and accept you won’t get the clowning around. You might get ‘star quality’ but it might be very different from the male version and not always so easy to sell.

  • Hartt · August 4, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    It looks like a short skirt isn’t enough to win a title. Giorgi was creamed by Jessica Pegula who won the Citi Open final 6-2, 6-2. I don’t understand why fans are keen on Giorgi, beyond guys who think she’s cute. She is a “hit the ball as hard as you can as close to the lines as possible no matter what” type of player. And she’s never had any great results. She is No.52 in the live rankings, having gone into the tourney at No.62. At 27 years old she can’t be called an up-and-comer.

    Pegula had a big jump in the rankings and is at No.55 in the live rankings. She said that she is past her injury problems, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her be successful during the rest of the season.

  • jg · August 4, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    The Kyrigos tape thing appears to be BS, I just saw him warming up an hour before the final in a tank top, no tape, and bombing serves. Local guy warming him up, couldn’t touch the ball

  • Harold · August 4, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Giorgi is the female Gulbis without Daddy’s money. Hits the ball great, can’t win

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    Of course Billie Jean King tells us women are equal and can do everything a man can do but as far as personality and charisma and antics on the court, and giving a little extra bang for the public’s entertainment value buck, the WTA is subordinate to the ATP. No one can argue that declaration.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 4, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Nick rolls to the Citi Open title 76 76. THis is the kind of week by Nick where he can change his career. He showed everything, 100% effort, burning desire to win mixed with relaxed fun loving crowd pleasing antics. Wonderful combination. To play in this matter and then to win the title could have a profound effect on Nick’s psyche and self belief. He played exactly the way he wanted to and it was validated by the crowds who loved the show and the most important aspect, winning the title. Nick is a champion, he proved it in emphatic style this week.

  • Jeff · August 4, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Gonna disagree on this one. Kyrgios’ return game is still suspect. Couldn’t create a break point today. Basically he got through tiebreakers and only beat two good opponents in Medvedev and Tsitsipas.

    In a one-week event he is dangerous because he can get hot, there is no question. There’s no down time and it’s essentially five matches in a row. He did this in Acapulco too and it didn’t translate to bigger events. It is easy to win a 500 since the top guys don’t quite take them as seriously. Sam Querrey beat Nadal as well in Mexico, if you recall.

    In a Slam, it’s best of 5 and there are off days and you have to manage two weeks of focus against elite competition. Your off days have to prepare you for match day. He simply doesn’t have the attention span to do this, absent an authoritarian coach.

    He also gets too giddy with winning and goes into party mode. No doubt the celebration will be major tonight on Instagram in D.C. Next week is a real test if he can beat Medvedev 2 weeks in a row. That will prove something.

  • Jeff · August 4, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Re: Giorgi. She went back to that black outfit that me and Catherine hate. Had she wore the semifinal skirt outfit, she may have fared better.

  • Vijay · August 4, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    “The WTA tends to just give you forehands and backhands, nothing extra, just pure tennis”

    Scoop, I’ll disagree, with the last part. Just forehands and backhands isn’t pure tennis. It’s only half of it. I agree drama and showmanship help. But Kyrgios can pull it off because he can hit a lot of shots — he’s got a complete game, including tweener lobs and drop shots.

    How many people in the women’s game have anything close to that? Very few. Barty and McNally are the rare exceptions. As is Saisai Zhang, who changes pace so well. It’s a joy to watch.

    I’ll start caring about on-court theatrics after I start caring about the game. If it’s just the former, there are other venues for me to find it, at a higher level.

  • Hartt · August 4, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    I had some good news and some bad news about which players I will see at the Rogers Cup tomorrow night. The 2nd match is Kerber vs Kasatkina and I’m looking forward to that one. I’m still a Dasha fan, despite her long slump, and I’m curious to see Kerber. The first match is Sharapova vs Kontaveit. I try to avoid Sharapova’s matches even on TV, and I don’t know much about Kontaveit. I wonder if I still have the ear plugs from last fall’s Davis Cup?

  • Jeff · August 4, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Kyrgios in press today: “I have beaten every single one of the best tennis players in the world doing it my way.”

    I guess Nishikori isn’t one of the best in the world. Neither is Domi Thiem, who he has not beaten. Yet the media is in his corner so they eat up what this clown has to say as if it is truth. It is not He is 0-4 against Nishikori.

    It’s so sad how the tennis media is so in the corner of both Kyrgios and Osaka simply because they post on social media. But at least Osaka is a Grand Slam champion.

  • catherine · August 5, 2019 at 1:01 am

    I wish we could get off this men/women thing and whether women are ‘subordinate’ or not. If it wasn’t for Kyrgios I suspect we wouldn’t be on it at all.
    We aren’t giving points for personality and there are plenty of players in the men’s draw who don’t scintillate with entertainment value.

    Frankly, I find a lot of theatrics and prancing around just irritating and a bit of a sham. I don’t see Federer doing it, or Djokovic or Nadal or quite a few others. I agree with Jeff here – the tennis media can be pretty gullible, always were, in their search for a story, and crowds can be strange – easily swayed by clowning around. Nastase, Connors, they got up to some pretty offensive stuff that most people would’ve disapproved off privately, but both got away with it because they knew how to press the buttons and get the crowd giggling.

  • catherine · August 5, 2019 at 1:16 am

    Harrt – Giorgi’s always been a guys’ favourite but like you, I can’t see much in her game. Put her in a big draw and she’s usually out early.

    Toronto should be interesting. I’ve no idea where Kerber’s at now. She’s been pretty silent since W’don – she may have a coach or may not, I suppose we’ll find out. Dasha has a chance if she can play well enough to push Angie into defeatist mode.

    Hope it doesn’t rain.

  • catherine · August 5, 2019 at 1:38 am

    Poor crowds in DC for women’s final and from what I could see not a particularly good match. I don’t know why the WTA bother about Washington.

    In San Jose Saba seems back to her old ways – bad serving and sulks at the handshake. New coach ? I know she’s young but Aryna needs a change in attitude. And a little more variety in her game for when bullldozing isn’t working.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 5, 2019 at 8:22 am

    The Washington final was an interesting contrast of a billionaires daughter vs a girl who had to ask investors for money support as a young pro, whose father was guilty of not paying back and keeping his promises. John McPhee could do another Levels of the Game book about the Pegula vs Giorgi final.

  • catherine · August 5, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Who knows what goes on in the background of these players ? Many murky stories involving money which will never see the light of day. ‘Levels of the Game’ was a different time. Those doors have closed and the lights have dimmed. No more great tennis books.

    Spotted a pic of Kerber practising in Toronto wearing a top stripped of adidas logo – what can this mean ? Has she just not got her laundry sorted or is there a more sinister message ?

  • Hartt · August 5, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Catherine, there is just a small chance of rain this evening, so it looks promising. The forecast is for rain on Tuesday, so hopefully that won’t happen during the evening, because the tourney has a lot riding on the Bianca vs Genie match.

  • Hartt · August 5, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Rafa had some kind words about FAA:

    “I like his character,” said Nadal. “He’s a very well-educated and nice guy. He’s very passionate about the sport. He’s one of the players that I would love to see at the top position and winning trophies because I think he deserves it.” (ATP site)

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 5, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Well Catherine, Steve Tignor did call my Facing Federer book “addictive reading.” Is that a great tennis book endorsement? 🙂 It would not be a surprise if adidas dropped Kerber. Since Nike dropped Fed, wonder when they will drop Rafa and Serena? Still hard to digest Uniqlo pays Federer $300m to wear the attire. Wonder if they are getting a return on investment.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 5, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Nadal has not said any such glowing words about any NEXTGEN players, this really is a remarkable endorsement of a future champion.

  • Hartt · August 5, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    From what I’ve read, Félix is well-liked by the other players, but that is high praise indeed from Rafa. I wonder if he sees something of himself in the youngster. For example, how seriously he takes tennis.

  • catherine · August 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Scoop – that is indeed a great endorsement from Tignor, but I’m thinking of books which deal with revelations or frank close-ups of major players and I think we’ve seen the last of those.

    Re clothing re-alignments – that fee for Fed is astonishing but I imagine uniqlo consider him a legend whose value will outlive his playing days. I noticed Murray has also changed brands – that was after his second hip op. And adidas let Simona go to Nike last year – they must be regretting that now 🙂 I’d be surprised if adidas cut ties with Angie, she must have been with the company her playing life, but if it’s a question of money sentiment doesn’t come into it. We’ll see when she walks on court tomorrow.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 5, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    adidas picked Muguruza over Simona, error in judgement. Murray is with Castore now, never heard of Castore and never saw anyone wearing it. I liked Giorgi’s outfits, supposedly designed by her mom, Canpack is a sponsor of Giorgi, thus the Canpack patch on her tops.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 5, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Hartt, there just is nothing not to like about Felix, he is like a young Roger and Rafa, no character flaws or ill behavior. He is perfect tennis player with perfect behavior 🙂

  • Jeff · August 5, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Rafa also backhandedly stating his disdain for Kyrgios with that praise for Felix. Felix has the same mentality as Rafa – to do his best and always try to win and have the right attitude. I definitely foresee Felix winning between 8-10 Slams when it is all said and done.

    Tommy Paul up a break early on Schnur. He should win this match and I think he will beat Fognini too. This is a good time for him to take some steps forward and prove himself among the elite in tennis since he is playing great

  • Hartt · August 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Scoop. lol. FAA is terrific, but he does have a few flaws. He gets nervous in big matches and on big points, and can make UFEs then. And they have to resolve this issue with the DFs. That is a huge hole in his game.

    But I think he has a great personality for tennis. Everyone agrees he is extremely mature (and was even as a 14-year-old). As Tiafoe said, Félix may be 18 but he acts like he is 35. He has a quiet appeal that has fans rooting for him. He comes across as an extremely nice guy, someone who is ambitious, but not full of himself.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Kontaveit bts Sharapova in 3 set epic and Kerber goes out to Kasatkina 6-0 6-2 6-4. Not a surprise. Haven’t seen any reports so not much to say. Except Dasha must have found her game and Angie lost hers somewhere. Dismal.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 12:50 am

    Angie hit 45 UEs errors – a topsy turvey match played very late but as so often in recent times she seemed to lose spirit as the match went on and what began as a rollover for her ended up just the opposite. What’s the solution ? She isn’t finished at 31 but there seems no pleasure in the game for her now. New coach ? Didn’t see one. She’s still with adidas.

    Dasha deserved the win – she kept up the pressure and took her chances when she sensed the mental collapse across the net. Angie is depressed.

    Hate to say it but I was not terribly upset Maria lost.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Ostapenko bt Garcia which is a pretty good result for Penko who hasn’t been having a great year, to put it mildly. And Yastremska hit Konta off the court.

    Back to Kerber – she needs to change her game, as well as her mentality. As with so many older player she’s going to get blown away in long matches. Strategy, not firepower and the SOSO isn’t working now. She’ll be out of the top 20 by the end of the year.

  • Hartt · August 6, 2019 at 1:43 am

    I was at the WTA matches tonight, thanks to the ticket I won. I even had a good seat. It’s 1:40am so I won’t say much now, except that I thoroughly enjoyed the last 2 sets of Kasatkina vs Kerber. I wasn’t keen to see Sharapova to begin with, and if I never see another of her matches it would be just fine.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 2:02 am

    Interesting piece for those who still insist that women players don’t practise together.

    Hartt – look forward to your impressions later – sorry you had to sit through Maria’s match though.

    I’m sure you enjoyed Dasha’s last two sets a lot more than Angie did 🙂

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 3:37 am

    So – Angie at this stage in her career has to win matches as fast as possible – that’s my coaching tip. It’s called speedtennis and is available free to all. Don’t think – do 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Sounds like some have had enough of watching Sharapova. I have to agree, she is a bore to watch. She should move on to all her other interests. But her identity is tennis and she still loves to compete. Her tennis addiction may be incurable. Many older veterans reach a point you just don’t want to see them play anymore, you’d rather see the younger or other striving players. Maria has won and achieved enough. Let the kids have their time.

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