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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  • Hartt · August 6, 2019 at 9:34 am

    I won’t say more about Sharapova vs Kerber other than I couldn’t wait for the match to end. Maria’s grunts are just about unbearable. Not only are they loud but it is an ugly sound. I had to leave the match at one point just to have some relief from that noise.

    I am getting so tired of Maria having centre courts and prime time. She is a poor player now, and should be treated the way she is actually playing.

    Kerber, as a recent Slam champion (3 times) should have been given top billing. So the entertaining match started late in the evening and was played in front of a small audience, purely because the Sharapove name still sells.

    Here is the report I wrote on Kerber vs Kasatkina for Match Call Migrants.

    Fortunately, Kasatkina vs Kerber more than made up for the first match. I am a huge Dasha fan, even with her recent slump, and was curious to see Angie live. This was such an entertaining match. At least after the first set. The less said about that the better. I was so discouraged seeing Dasha play so badly then that I thought about leaving – that was just too painful to watch.

    Then Daria had OCC. I don’t know who her new coach is and we couldn’t hear what he said. But they showed it on the big screen, and she paid careful attention, looking right at him. It’s hard to know if the coaching did the trick, but she was a different player in the second set. Suddenly here was the Kasatkina that her fans know and love, with powerful shots and lots of variety, including that lovely BH slice. Kerber did not play badly then, it was more that Dasha upped her level dramatically.

    I know Angie had a lot of unforced errors in the match, but my impression was that she played well overall. Seeing her live you got to understand just how hard and deep she hits the ball. And she changes direction so easily, making those wonderful DTL winners. She seemed even more powerful, especially with those strong legs, than she looks on TV. There were a few times when I thought it’s easy to see how she won 3 Slams.

    The match had so many great rallies, with each woman hitting one terrific shot after another. You had to cheer at the end no matter which player won the point. You were on the edge of your seat, completely absorbed.

    It looked like either player could win the third set, but Angie’s level dropped a bit and Dasha continued to play well. It sounded like there were more Kerber fans in the crowd, although Dasha did have her supporters. But at the end the crowd gave Dasha a wonderful ovation. (Or at least those diehards who were still there at nearly midnight.) Dasha had fought so hard to turn things around after that disastrous first set. Angie got a big round of applause when she left the court – people appreciated how well she had played.

    There is just something so appealing about Dasha. She is small compared to many players, so perhaps that makes her seem vulnerable. She fights so fiercely on the court and then is so sunny (and funny) in interviews. I was absolutlely thrilled that she won last night. Maybe this win over a tough competitor will help turn her season around.

  • Vijay · August 6, 2019 at 9:35 am

    I was up late watching Angie play. That was disappointing. She seems to lack . . . confidence. Terrible shot selection, with all those inopportune drop shots etc. She has such small margins and if she is not on, she will always lose. Good for Daria. She played a smart match, kept balls in, and let Angie beat herself.

    Real shame about Angie. I wish she would take 3-4 months off, claiming injury or something, and work on both the mental aspects, as well as her technique, and on playing with more spin and margins.

  • Vijay · August 6, 2019 at 9:38 am

    I don’t think Maria should quit because she is 32. But she certainly doesn’t deserve all these WCs. Nothing about her performance is pleasing. I’m not sure what she did with all that time off, given that nothing has changed with her game, and people are now used to it and know how to react and play against her.

  • Hartt · August 6, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Obviously I meant Sharapova vs Kontaveit. Haven’t finished my morning coffee yet and they both start with “K”.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 9:56 am

    And TC showed all of Maria and they should have show Shap vs PHH or some of it. Maria I was told is older than the age she gives, possibly 34.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Hartt- Thanks for those comments, very enjoyable to have a firsthand account. And a good gritty win by Daria.

    But I’m afraid I have to agree with Vijay overall. After the first set Angie should have gone on and finished the match in two. At this stage the others know how she plays and if they keep her in a holding pattern, as it were, she’ll often beat herself. She got into a lot of passive rallies which she lost, because, as Vijay says, of poor shot selection or just a mental inability to end them. Where were those winning Xct angled shots which used to win her so many points ? Daria said she concentrated on keeping the rallies going and that was a smart move. And I don’t think Angie was tired – it was a long match but she is strong and looks fit. It’s that old 3 set spectre which comes back to haunt her.

    I don’t want Kerber to end up the way Scoop sees Sharapova – her identity so fixed in the game that she can’t leave it, however bad things get, and she ends up a disregarded veteran. I also wish she’d sort out her coaching problems. Obviously I don’t know anything about her situation behind the scenes but it seems to me that the lack of someone expert to lean on, talk strategy with etc isn’t doing her any good. She does indeed seem to lack confidence, or self-belief, which is strange given all she has achieved in tennis, but the roots of that may lie somewhere else. If it’s true (as Scoop related earlier) that Angie seriously thought of giving up the game when she was young then the past might be shining a light on the present.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Scoop – I’ve always though Maria is older than she claims. 34 is entirely possible.

  • Jeff · August 6, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Pova is a bore to watch with her archaic tactics. Plus her sex appeal is waning a bit and so many more cuties to watch like Svitolina, etc.

    I agree with all of you, she should move on but what else can she do? Sell candy?

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Catherine, a Florida coach said she’s 2-3 years older than the given age. Knows her from earliest days in Sarasota Bradenton. Didn’t specify how he knew but he seemed to know.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    She can go to #spiritcooking parties with her friend Marina Abramovic, the alleged witch.

  • Hartt · August 6, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    An interesting article, with some great pictures, from WTA Insider. Those who claim that the women players don’t get along or want to practice together.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    It’s a very good article. It would not be a surprise if the WTA orchestrated this movement to get players to practice with other players because I know for a fact in the past it was an issue that many players did not train with other WTA players, opting instead for tournament hired hitters or their own hitting partners. It would not be a surprise if this new policy was instituted earlier this year. The article did reveal some good insights like Bertens never misses a ball in practice and some players take practice too serious and are too competitive.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    From doing my books I learned some WTA players have practiced with other players, Graf hit with other players like Tauziat, Stubbs, Peruvians, etc. I saw McHale and Davis train together a few times, good friends. But a lot were isolated with their own teams and used tournament hired hitting partners. I spoke with a few and one told me he hit with too much spin and Kirilenko sent him off the court after just minutes, opting instead to hit with her coach. Not sure if Seles ever hit with other players. I think it’s smart to avoid other players, so they can’t feel your ball and it’s overwhelming for them when they do feel in the first time. Nadal hit s a very heavy, spinny ball that is totally unique, many players said this. But Rafa is not picky about who he hits with, he just hits with whoever he can get, top 50 or even juniors and he takes no mercy on anyone.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Hartt – I posted that link earlier today – but I suppose everyone your side of the Atlantic was fast asleep.

    And Scoop, I doubt that it was a policy recently instituted by the WTA. I’ve always said women practised together, even years ago. I happen to know this.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Yes some or a few always have practiced together, but it was different than ATP. And less frequent. I would not be surprised of there is a push to encourage players to hit with each other in WTA and this article is promoting it. Could be wrong, I will dig some more on this later in the year. I know for a fact a top American junior was snubbed by WTA top 100 pros who shunned her at Carson CA training center. She told me this at Eddie Herr three years ago.

  • Jeff · August 6, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Both Collins and Giorgi go down in Toronto so that’s a bit of a bummer.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Ha ha Jeff – not many cuties left in the draw now 🙂

  • Vijay · August 6, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Have to disagree, Catherine. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. And I choose to appreciate more often than not.

    However, I can’t imagine watching two hours of Collins. Her game has no sense of aesthetics. So rough, no flow. Nothing elegant. That has to overwhelm whatever else one thinks of her appearance.

    Reminds me of that old Seinfeld episode about good naked vs. bad naked.

  • Hartt · August 6, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    I have to admit that I am just as happy that Collins and Giorgi are gone.

    But it was a real shock that Barty lost to Kenin.

    Catherine, am sorry that I missed your earlier post with the WTA link. I usually look for them.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 6, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    Collins is a tremendous fighter who will not back down to any superstar, she will yell and fist pump against no. 200 or no. 1 with the same intensity. It’s always good theater to see a provocative player like Collins. She is very similar to Hewitt in that sense. Talking to Mike Russell in Newport, he said of his rivalry with Hewitt, Hewitt made it personal between you and him. They had a history and at least locker room confrontation, Russell revealed, not going into any detail. They had their last clash in Memphis and Russell won 76 in the third.

  • Hartt · August 6, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Bianca Andreescu won against Genie Bouchard tonight 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Bianca showed rust at the beginning of the match, but played much better as the match wore on. Genie did not play that badly for the most part, but Bianca, with her variety and quickness around the court, simply was the better player.

    Bianca will play Kasatkina after Simona’s match, so I will get to see her play after all.

  • catherine · August 6, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    Well Vijay, I have to agree about Collins – I don’t care about her appearance but I can’t forgive her for what she did to Angie at the AO – that wasn’t fair 🙂

    And she’s done nothing since.

  • Vijay · August 6, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    What did Collins do to Angie?

    I actually feel sorry for her coaches who have to watch her play and practice all the time. It cannot be pleasant. I hope they are well compensated.

    In the long run, no matter how feisty she is, Scoops comparisons to Hewitt notwithstanding, I don’t think she is going to have a lot of success. Certainly not winning Grand Slams. Tight margins and vey few ways to win cheap points. It’s hard to win consistently that way.

  • Jeff · August 6, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Collins is already a success, coming from college tennis to attain a permanent place on the tour and reaching the top 25. She had an amazing run at the Aussie Open in knocking off the Germans Goerges and Kerber and reaching the semis.

    Plus she was No. 1 in college tennis and is studying business. Her intelligence and in your face attitude is great for the tour since she brings personality like Scoop says.

  • Jeff · August 7, 2019 at 12:00 am

    Interesting that Tommy Paul is playing on center court tomorrow against Fognini. For some reason, the Italian is favored but this should be easy money. Fognini is hurt and looked bad in Mexico. A huge opportunity for Tommy Paul to take the next step after he gave Tsitsipas a run for his money last week.

  • Jeff · August 7, 2019 at 12:04 am

    Heres a Tommy Paul story on the ATP site, looks like the secret is out that he is on the rise…

  • catherine · August 7, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Vijay – Collins thrashed Angie in her opening match 6-0 6-2 in record time, 20 mins first set, forcing Kerber to take her first ever bathroom break and (I think) inflicting damage on her psyche which has lasted all year. And maybe Scheuttler never quite recovered either. Just one of those days – but in her pc you could see how upset Kerber was. She brushed off Ben Rothenberg’s impertinent questions (good) so it was worth watching for that. It’s on Youtube, or was.

    Unlike Jeff I can’t see much personality in Collins and I hate the way she plays. She seems to run through coaches too. Her handshakes aren’t the greatest either.

  • catherine · August 7, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Hartt – good to see Bianca winning but it’s unfortunate she has to play another match against what could be a tough opponent in Dasha so soon. Just hope all goes well shoulder wise.

    I’m not sure about Barty. She’s a top player and I enjoy watching her but I don’t feel she’s really going to dominate. Maybe too nice ?

    Sloane out to a qualifier. Her heart doesn’t seem in the game. Looking forward to wedded bliss ?

  • Hartt · August 7, 2019 at 2:26 am

    I hope Bianca will be OK shoulder wise as well. But if she is going to be successful she has to be able to play against tough opponents soon after another match. I am looking forward to her match against Dasha because both have variety in their games, although Bianca has more power.

    I was surprised about Barty, had thought she would show more consistency.

    Sloane’s fiance, who lives in Toronto, was watching her match, so she must have been doubly disappointed to lose.

    With some top seeds out already, the tourney must be praying that Simona and Bianca have deep runs.

  • Vijay · August 7, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Jeff, you’re damning Collins with faint praise. NCAA champ usually doesn’t count for much and, if anything, is actually a good predictor of mediocrity. Let me not get into all the other issues with the NCAA. That’s a rant for another day. As for her supposed education, I am intimately aware of how much of a sham these degrees are, like hers in media studies. One would probably learn as much just by reading a newspaper every morning. Finally, her supposed competitiveness is also overstated. She should spend more time on her game, and once she starts blowing people away, I would be happy to hear her gloat. As of now, she has no real reason to do so.

    Catherine, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think you should hold the AO score line against Collins. What was she supposed to do? Give Angie some games? Collins and that score was the symptom. Angie needs to take care of the problem, clearly one that has festered for a long time.

  • Harold · August 7, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Collins, in your face game seems manufactured to me. She thinks she’s intimidating. Will she be able to protect semis in Oz points? That’s her most important question. If not, she’ll be hanging around the 40’s to 60’s ranking. No way she wins a Major.

    Fritz, anyone still think he has a Major in him? I don’t., never did.

    Kyrgios.. does anyone else think he’s gonna have a physical confrontation with an opponent before he’s done. They can tell you he’s liked in the locker room. You can see the annoyance on his opponents faces. Trying to intimidate every official, every freaking match. Still surprised Wawa didn’t go after him after the line about Kok, and Venice.

    Watched most of 3 women’s matches yesterday, Barty might have been the only one who made a standard volley, swinging volleys are the new norm. Stephens and Andreescu tried to hit regular volleys, failed miserably

  • catherine · August 7, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Vijay – I had my tongue somewhere in my cheek when I wrote that. But it was such a humiliation, and so unexpected and the day after Angie’s birthday. Cruel !
    And so not the way to start the year.

    Seemed to me Angie just wasn’t prepared, for reasons unknown, and Collins was out to make a statement. She’s not a player I warm to – either her style or some of the comments which have come out of her mouth. And as for that degree in media studies….

    Angies p.c. was a little painful to watch but I liked the way she shut down stupid questions and just closed the hacks off. Told you something about her that she doesn’t often reveal.

  • catherine · August 7, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Harold – McNally hits a more or less regular volley I think. I’ve only seen her play once though so I’d have to take a closer look. You do have to learn them young though and who does that now ?

    It’s ‘Vekic’ not Venice- and I agree – indefensible.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 7, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Good win for Andreescu, all the pressure was on her, she was expected to win.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 7, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Harold, the confidence of Collins is low now so her intensity is diluted and not at peak. She is a born fighter, she might have plateaued after AO because maybe she herself didn’t expect such success and doesn’t believe she can do better. But I think she will get hot again, kind of like Stanimal and Sandgren, sudden eruptions of top 5 or top 10 tennis out of nowhere. I also think she is trying to balance her femininity and her masculinity (she is looking for a boyfriend?).

  • Harold · August 7, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Give Collins Jeff’s e mail

  • Vijay · August 7, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Scoop, you didn’t seriously put Stan W and Sandgren on the same level, did you?

    And even if Collins gets hot, do you seriously see her winning multiple Grand Slams like Stan? I just can’t see that at all.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 7, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Not at this point, maybe she can sneak one but it’s a longshot of course. The point was to show that sometimes seemingly ordinary players can suddenly become superstars. People forget now that Wawrinka was an ordinary, mediocre player for most of his career until he won AO in 2014. Before that his best result in a major was QF which he did just three times in nine years. Sandgren has had two solid runs at majors (QF and fourth round) so maybe he can pull off a Wawrinka eruption.

  • Vijay · August 7, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Perhaps, but my recollection is also that, before 2014, Stan was thought to be a top level talent, capable of winning majors, and that up to that point, he had underperformed. Do people think Sandgren is capable of winning majors? He doesn’t have a complete game. Too many weaknesses (that backhand for one), not enough ways to win matches. Unfortunately for him, the big 3 have raised the bar so high that I don’t see Sandgren winning a major at all. At least not while Novak and Rafa have anything to say about it.

  • Jeff · August 7, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Redditors falling over themselves making excuses for Kyrgios – he had to fly in from Washington, he was tired, Edmund is a quality player. Must be nice to have a willing group of apologists.

    Collins is a classic late bloomer who has a big upside. I think it is too early to write her off and women’s tennis is unpredictable.

    Interesting that Gasquet is 7-3 against Nishikori and 6-2 against Kyrgios. He just doesn’t get his due.

  • Jeff · August 7, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Roddick on Felix: “Something I look for is easy power. I think most guys on [the ATP] Tour, if they set up and want to hit a ball hard, they can. The really, really great ones — you think of Roger, I think of a guy like Tomas Berdych — it doesn’t look like he’s swinging out of his shoes, but the ball kind of launches off of his racquet. And maybe you can’t see the ball on TV, but you can feel it playing against him,” Roddick said. “Felix seems to have that easy power. When he’s going after a ball, it doesn’t look out of sorts. It looks like the technique is pretty much the same.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 7, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Correction: Stan made SF at US Open in 2013 (lost 64 in the fifth to Djokovic). But until 2014, he had only won four titles. He was 29 years old two months after winning AO.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Jeff, we knew it was highly probably Nick would flounder in Montreal. There had to be a letdown after the “best week” of his life. No shame in losing 64 64 to Edmund who is a tough cookie. We can’t expect Nick to suddenly turn into a week in and week out robot machine like Nadal, Djokovic, Sampras. Everyone should be happy with what they got last week at Citi Open. One of the most electrifying weeks of tennis on the ATP Tour in a long time. It’s probably going to be weeks or months before we see Nick at his very best again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 7, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Roddick always was good for giving good quotes and content, a very underrated interview. Again, Felix is impressing the best players of other eras. Further proof that Felix is going to be the one who can be even better than Djokovic.

  • catherine · August 7, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Halep bt Brady in 3 tight sets and t/b in 3rd. Good quality match for most of the time with some outstanding points. Simona looked pretty tired by the end and also had an MTO for what looked like a strained calf or something similar. So I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t go much further in Toronto and maybe should skip Cincinatti.

    Yastremska pummelled Azarenka – I think Vika is approaching the finish line and Fisette should be looking for pastures new.

    Svitolina bt Siniakova and Elina had an MTO too. WTA is a bunch of walking wounded.

  • catherine · August 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Bianca comes out to play Kasatkina with her left thigh heavily strapped….

  • Hartt · August 7, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Bianca not only had the thigh heavily strapped, but she had tape on the inside of her other thigh as well. At one point during the match she got so annoyed with all the taping that she tore it off.

    She was very up and down in the match, and until the very end I wasn’t really expecting her to win, but she pulled it off somehow. It was fun to watch 2 players who have variety, and often you had no idea what shot each would hit next.

  • Jeff · August 7, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Lost a bit of coin on Tommy Paul. Really think he should have won that first set. He actually played better against Tsitsipas. He really needs to win one of these matches to get over the hump. It is tough because he is right there with the Top 20 players, it is plain to see.

  • catherine · August 8, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Hartt – I saw some of the match and like you I wasn’t at all sure who was going to win – both looked exhausted at the end. I hope Daria can keep up the momentum and the variety – she’ll start winning again. She’s also lost a bit of weight which is helping I think. Bianca can lose some too but that should come as she grows older.

    I rarely read Youtube comments but I had a look at this match and was surprised at how unpopular Bianca seems to be. Real vitriol. Can’t see the reason. But then a lot of those people are pretty irrational and don’t need a reason.

  • catherine · August 8, 2019 at 4:26 am

    Serena played ok but her movement is still sluggish – if the ball comes to her she’s fine but she’s in trouble if it goes the other way. Mertens wasn’t able to capitalise on that. Frenzied Serena fans see her as ruling the world again but I doubt that’s going to happen. At 38 you don’t start doing things faster.

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