Wimbledon: Watching Nick Kyrgios play tennis is like witnessing a car crash – you want to look away, but can't
For those unfamiliar with the name, Nick Kyrgios is a 27-year-old Australian tennis sensation, whose considerable tennis skills are undeniable. His racquet wizardry unparalleled.
He's also a world-class jerk.
Kyrgios is a rather ill-fit for a genteel sport where proper decorum and sportsmanship are the norms. So much so, that at the conclusion of each match, combatants - regardless of the ferocity of their match - meet at the net to shake hands, embrace, or to console the vanquished. In fact, rarely does one player speak ill of another.
The brash Kyrgios, however, has no time for such niceties. He's got hides to claim and butts to beat!
Don't expect ol' Nick to raise his hand - palm-up (in an "I'm sorry" gesture) - when one of his shots catches the top of the net, before flopping over unplayable, like every other pro player, either.
Not a chance. If it's apologies you crave, don't attend his matches. You'll be disappointed.
If, however, you enjoy your tennis conducted in a rabble-rousing fashion, then, Kyrgios is your guy.
Moreover, on any given day, Kyrgios has the skills to beat any player alive as he possesses a nearly unfathomable amount of god-given talent.
He's just that good.
What he is not yet - despite his considerable skill set - is a Grand Slam Champion - something Kyrgios is currently attempting to become at this year's third major, Wimbledon.
Yes, Wimbledon. The most prim and proper stop on the pro tour. Conducted on the grass courts at the All England Club, in London - where propriety has been practiced since its inaugural, in 1877. So demure, in fact, that it has mandated that players be attired in all-white garb when playing - in keeping with Wimbledon's long-standing tradition.
If you're thinking that Wimbledon and Kyrgios is a mismatch that has about as much in common as a rainbow and an erupting volcano, well.....then, you've been paying attention.
Wimbledon is the ultimate classy event and has little patience for Kyrgios' undignified, frat boy antics and seemingly never ending theatrics.
Conversely, Kyrgios is great theater, whose boorish behavior has connected with Millennials and Gen Z'ers, who like “the 'tude,” i.e., edginess, he brings to a sport often regarded as staid.
For example, when covering Saturday's third round matches, ABC opted to show Kyrgios vs. # 4 seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas on "Court One," even though living legend Rafael Nadal - whose matches are always network TV's focal point - was playing concurrently on "Center Court."
Granted, Nadal's opponent, Lorenzo Sonego, lacked the star power of the Kyrgios/Tsitsipas match-up, but nonetheless, its message was clear and meaningful.
That's what makes Nick Kyrgios a necessary enigma for tennis. Sure, pro tennis has its fans, but youth must always be served. For, if new fans don't embrace the sport and replace those who die off, attrition becomes the enemy.
Tennis can't ill-afford that.
That's why the powers-that-be at the Old England Tennis Club are lamenting the fact that as Wimbledon enters its second week, Nick Kyrgios is still there playing. You can almost hear those in Wimbledon's pearly white towers lamenting, “Is that bloody bloke still here?”
With Saturday's win over Tsitsipas, Kyrgios - the 25 seed - is now into the round of 16. His next opponent is Brandon Nakashima, a talented 20-year-old prospect to be sure, however, if he beats Kyrgios that would qualify a major shocker. You see, when Kyrgios loses a match, it's usually because he beats himself.
If he thumps Nakashima as expected, Kyrgios would then be into the final 8 and would be only a couple of matches away from winning the whole shebang! Of course, when entering such exalted territory, Kyrgios would have to defeat the likes of world # 1 Novak Djokovic (who's won 20 Grand Slams and the aforementioned Rafa Nadal who's won 22).
As such, it's not much of a stretch to believe that tournament executives see Djokovic, Nadal (and frankly anyone else), as "hole cards," to prevent Kyrgios from winning Wimbledon - an outcome that would, no doubt, make them shudder uncontrollably.
The mere thought of what might occur should Kyrgios triumphantly hoist the Wimbledon trophy above his head, would surely put the fear of god into the Wimbledon hierarchy, causing them to convulse at the prospect of what churlish prank Kyrgios might pull during the prestigious ceremony.
Surely flipping the bird to a worldwide TV audience would have great appeal to a mischievous rascal like Nick Kyrgios - as haughty Wimbledon execs faint en masse.
Stay tuned. It'll be nearly impossible to look away.