How A Phone Call Saved Nick Kyrgios From Taking A Break From Tennis
If somebody told Nick Kyrgios two months ago that he would score back-to-back straight set wins over Novak Djokovic, he probably would have laughed in their face.
On Wednesday evening the Australian illustrated his fine talent with a comprehensive 6-4, 7-6(3), dismissal of world No.2 Djokovic, who was unable to grab a single break point opportunity. Kyrgios’ ability to produce blistering serves combined with some delicate drop shots has sent warning signals out ahead of his next mouthwatering clash. A meeting with the formidable Roger Federer.
“There is no doubt that he has a big game, and that game that he has can and should be for a top 10, top 5 player.” Djokovic said about Kyrgios following his loss.
The recent triumphs of Kyrgios comes less than two months after he contemplated stepping away from the sport for a break. His start to the season was far from smooth. Returning to the tour after a suspension due to ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’, the 21-year-old succumbed in a five-set epic against Andreas Seppi during the second round at the Australian Open. The loss took Kyrgios into a ‘dark place’ as he was heavily scrutinised by many in his home country.
“After Australia it was tough. Obviously it felt like the whole of Australia was against me after I lost. Even though no other Australian did really well, but I copped it all, I felt.” Said Kyrgios.
“I was in a dark place, didn’t want to play for a bit. I was going to take a break for who knows? I was talking to my team, like, I can’t really play anymore.”
On the verge of despair with his tennis career, the turnaround began thanks to a phone call made by Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt, who has mentored Kyrgios in recent years, asked him to participate in Australia’s Davis Cup tie against the Czech Republic. It was a routine call, but one that triggered a resurgence in Kyrgios’ passion for the sport.
“Rusty (Hewitt’s nickname) called me up and then he really wanted me to come play Davis Cup. And that was the best thing I could have done, come back and be with the boys, and I found some enjoyment practicing again.” He said.
“I don’t know what happened. Something — something switched, and now I’m really enjoying it again. We still talk to this day, the whole Davis Cup team.
“I think that’s helped me the most.”
Since his Davis Cup experience, Kyrgios has progressed to back-to-back semifinals in ATP tournaments. At this week’s Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells he has progressed to the quarter-finals for the first time in his career.
The Bad Boy image
Despite the run of convincing results, Kyrgios still has his critics due to his sometimes questionable behaviour. His latest antic occurred in the doubles when he casually went to a member of the crowd to have some of their chips before starting his match.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 16 March 2017
Kyrgios’ bad-boy association looks set to hang over him for the foreseeable future. Still, the world No.16 maintains that is anything but bad.
“I haven’t done anything against the law. I haven’t drink-drive, haven’t shot someone, I haven’t stolen. I’m not a bad person. In the scheme of things, you put it in perspective, I’m really not a bad person.” He pointed out when questioned about his ‘bad-guy image’.
Love him or hate him, Kyrgios looks set to mean business this year. The only issue hindering him is his consistency on the tour.