Javier Yap

Australia’s most hated sportsman?

Australia’s most hated sportsman?

Who is Nick Kyrgios?

Nick Kyrgios is a professional tennis player from Australia and is ranked as the 18th top men’s tennis player in the world. The 21 year old’s big break came when he broke into the top 100 rankings after knocking out Rafael Nadal to reach the quarter finals of Wimbledon in 2014. Since then, Kyrgios has continued to win big matches in his career. He was actually a promising basketball player before he turned 14 but made the choice to switch to a career focus on tennis instead.

The question is whether it is too late to rebuild a better reputation for himself. Has has he damaged his image beyond repair already?

Why is there so much negative spotlight about him?

Talented is one word to describe Kyrgios’ athletic ability on court. There’s no doubt that the Australian has huge potential after registering some impressive results over the years including becoming the youngest Australian to reach the quarter finals of the Australian Open in almost a quarter of a century after defeating Italian Andreas Seppi. However, it is negative traits of his personality on and off the court of cocky, arrogant and disrespectful that people often associate his name with.

Undoubtedly, he is the most controversial tennis player right now and even been referred to as one of the most disliked sportsmen in the world by The Telegraph. Despite his success on the court, it is his lack of sportsmanship through his actions and words that have over-shone the positive aspects of his career. There have been countless times when Kyrgios has been in the media for the wrong reasons. The most recent of incidents have come in his Wimbledon campaign this year. Kyrgios was fined $3360 in his first round win over Radek Stepanek for swearing and appeared to be tanking his quarter final loss against Andy Murray.

Here are just some of the other cases which have drawn negative attention and infuriated not only the tennis world but also the people of his home country:

The infamous, “banged your girlfriend” comment.

During his second round match against Stanislas Wawrinka last year at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, the then 19 year old directed a message to his opponent that said: “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate.” Although his Swiss opponent did not hear his comment at the time, microphones picked it up and millions of viewers around the world heard clearly what Kyrgios had said. Wawrinka was later informed in a press conference of Kyrgios’ words and was furious about this, taking to Twitter to express his thoughts on the situation. Kyrgios was fined £15, 900 and banned for 28 days from ATP events.

“Dirty Scum” comment

Krygios swept past Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the first round of Wimbledon in 2015 but was caught up in controversy when he shouted the words “dirty scum” after a line call that the umpire, Mohamed Lahyani made.

Later on in the match he also shouted out of frustration, “I’ve just been absolutely hung in that game.” Later in his post-match press conference, he explained that he directed his words to himself and not the umpire but many found it hard to believe that he was telling the truth.

Racquet throw incident

During his third round match against Canada’s Milos Raonic at Wimbledon in 2015, the then 20 year old threw his racquet against the ground after missing a chance to capitalise on a break point. The force was enough that it bounced into where fans were seated, narrowly missing a spectator. Luckily for Kyrgios, he was only given a code violation for this.

Kyrgios racquet throw.png

Photograph: Tom Jenkins                                                                                                                              Photograph: Tim Ireland

 

Foul language & Tanking

A code violation was given by umpire James Keothavong after losing the first set against Frenchman, Richard Gasquet in their round 4 encounter at Wimbledon 2015.

Following this, in the same match, Kyrgios appeared to have thrown the match away after losing the 2nd set, barely putting any effort which received boos from the crowd. If that wasn’t enough, the string of boos continued when he then had a heated argument with Keothavong after the umpire had told him that he was taking too long changing his socks.


No love for the sport

In an interview with London newspaper, The Times before the 2016 Roland Garros draws were announced, Kyrgios voiced his disinterest in the sport, saying that he regrets the decision of choosing tennis over his favourite sport, basketball at the age of 14.

“My parents were pretty strong pushing me into tennis. They probably thought it was easier to make it in tennis. I definitely liked basketball a lot better. But it didn’t work out too badly, I guess.” 

““There is zero chance that Nick Kyrgios will be playing tennis when he’s 30 years old. There’s absolutely no chance. I don’t know how long my career will be but God help me if I am playing tennis at 30. There are so many more things to this world than tennis for me. Not tennis at 30. Please. Not even for fun.”

This infuriated many around him, including Australian former world number eight, Mark Phillipoussiss. When the retired tennis player was questioned about whether learning to love the sport was possible for the youngster, his reply was a simple: “No. Then stop playing. Then why continue? Who cares if you’ve got raw talent if nothing’s going to happen? With his raw talent, he should be competing for grand slams.”

 

 

Punished!

Kyrgios’ bad reputation through his actions have caused some major repercussions as a result:

– Major underwear brand, Bonds decided to cut ties with the tennis player after his three month contract as one of its ambassadors ended in October 2014 due to bad reputation. This included the youngster publically admitting that he does not wear Bonds underwear himself, but instead Nike branded skins or goes “commando” under his shorts. His on-court behaviour also led Group Marketing Manager at Bonds, Tanya Deans to confirm their decision to part ways with Kyrgios. There was no official statement regarding the value of the contract.

– Australian Olympic Committee also had doubts on whether to select Kyrgios to represent the nation in the Rio Olympic Games in August, with the Australian team chef de mission, Kitty Chief handing Kyrgios a bad behaviour letter.

His family have also received a lot of anger from the public. One of the most shocking was when Australian radio host Hughesy slammed Kyrgios’ older brother Christos on live radio for defending his brother’s uncalled for remarks towards Stan Wawrinka.

Radio host, Hughesy also took to Twitter to bash Australia’s highest ranked tennis player.


Haters on social media have even created a Facebook page which mocks the 21 year old, deeming him as a flog.

FB page on Kyricunt


Athletes on Kyrgios

While there have been some instances where other players have come to the defence of Kyrgios such as Andy Murray, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Roger Federer, many are disgusted by his attitude.

Tennis legend, John Mc Enroe reported during court-side commentary:
“It’s not just the mental part, he needs to work on his game. He doesn’t know what it takes to be a top-10 professional to win grand slams. He’s got a lot of thinking to do, a lot of work to do. It’s a damn shame when he does this. It makes no sense whatsoever. He’s got to take responsibility for what’s going on.”

BBC quoted six time Wimbledon’s doubles champion, Mark Woodforde:
“Maybe it is not a coach, maybe it is a psychologist or doctor of some sort who can help him with issues because I think it does start off the court with him.”

The Guardian quoted former men’s world number one, Andy Roddick on Kyrgios’s behaviour:
“Would I want my child to do it? Maybe not. But would I watch it? I probably would.”

Retired Australian cricketer, Shane Warne:

 


“National disgrace”

National disgrace and national embarrassment, it’s been in headlines before and it is always. Ever since Kyrgios made it to the big stage, Australians have been hesitant in calling him a local hero. Being the number one tennis player for Australia, his image is very important for the representation of the nation. Not only is he a tennis player but he is also a role model and a brand ambassador. Australia takes big pride in nationalism for their elite athletes but it looks like Kyrgios does not take it seriously. The image of Australia in tennis had already had a bad image with Bernard Tomic’s off-court antics drawing negative attention and now Kyrgios has taken over.

Ray Warren, an Australian sports commentator with over 40 years of broadcast experience said on Triple M’s Deadset Legends radio show: ““The only way to really pull Kyrgios into line is to take what he does best and loves best away from him. I don’t want him to be wearing the Australian colours either to be quite frank with you.”

Melbournian, Angela Cheung also remarked to me: “He is un-Australian. You can do many great things that will make a positive impression on people but it only takes one bad moment to ruin it all. People tend to remember negative things more than they do positive. For me, Kyrgios isn’t in the good books. He is a talented player but I just don’t like him. His ego is too much to handle.”

Javier Yap

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