Nick Kyrgios’ first round match against Pablo Carreno Busta at the Australian Open went as anticipated -- a brilliant display of offensive tennis packed with outrageous shots, an obscenity code violation, and not to mention that colourful outfit of his.
The match was a cakewalk for the young Aussie, but what could have been a dull match turned out to be a total amusement for the crowd, thanks to the ‘Kyrgios effect’. An entertainment of that sort is something tennis had been missing for long, for none of the players who constitute the upper echelons are into eccentricities.
Besides, tennis didn’t require a freak, for the Big Four had redefined the game with their enchanting rivalry, drawing in huge crowds, especially Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. What could happen to tennis’ fan following once Federer and Nadal call it quits? A question that has been pondered over by many.
Even though it would be cynical and irrational to predict a plummet, the fact that we haven’t had a teen champion since 2005 is a matter of concern, the homogenisation of courts or the racket string technology, whatever be the reason for the dearth of young Grand Slam champions.
Despite all the hype, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, etc., still remain perennial underdogs, and it was 30-year-old Stan Wawrinka, who finally broke the Big Four. As much we love to watch Federer continue playing, or Djokovic’s unparalleled mastery, the desire to see a young blood dominating the tour is also burning.
Along came Nick Kyrgios, a teen who toppled Nadal and Federer in his very first encounter. A couple of weeks back, he humbled Andy Murray as well, on his fifth attempt. Only Novak Djokovic remains now. Of late, apart from Kyrgios, only five players could boast of that remarkable feat -- defeating Federer, Nadal and Murray --- they are, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Raonic, Tsonga and Nishikori.
If you may recall, it wasn’t his expletives or arrogance that catapulted Kyrgios to fame. It was his big win against Nadal at Wimbledon that made the teen a household name. Last year, with that nerve-racking win against Federer at the Madrid Masters (6-7 7-6 7-6), the world took a new interest on him; suddenly, there was undue importance to whatever he said and did.
The young man was also enjoying his newfound fame, and it is of little surprise that he donned the role of an ‘entertainer’ once he realised he had an audience. Given his age, he is prone to gaffes, and he already had his fair share of embarrassing moments on court, but that doesn’t make him any less a player.
At the Australian Open, there is a possibility of him encountering Federer in the quarterfinals, if he could subdue Tomas Berdych in the fourth round. Federer recently had a shocking upset against Raonic at Brisbane International, and that would amp up Kyrgios’ confidence if at all he reaches the quarterfinals, besides, he will be playing in front of his home crowd.
When asked about Kyrgios’ proclivity to court controversies, Federer had a different opinion. The Swiss maestro said he enjoys watching the young Australian play, and according to him, as long as the latter stays focused on his game and doesn’t cross the line, the rest will fall in place.
Federer believes that Kyrgios will mature with time. It would be great if Federer’s words come true one day, for we all would love to see a young man challenging the dominance of Djokovic, same like how Nadal tested Federer, or Djokovic destroying the Fedal.