Tennis is an intense sport and emotional outbursts are not uncommon. Players smash their rackets to the court in frustration. Some take their ire out on the umpires and some even hit balls at the spectators.
For most players, these outbursts are few and far between while for others, they are uncharacteristic. But tennis is not without its so-called “bad boys” and “bad girls”. In the recent past, John McEnroe was nicknamed “Superbrat” by the British press for his foul behavior on the court.
With McEnroe retired, few have actually gone and rivaled his reputation.
That is until a certain Nick Kyrgios came on the scene.
Some of His Most Controversial Moments
Nick has had more than a handful of controversial moments on the court. One of them happened most recently at 2022 Wimbledon where he got into a spat with Stefanos Tsitsipas. Both were fined heavily for their antics.
Kyrgios Tsitsipas Match:
But that wasn’t the first time that Kyrgios let his temper get the better of him. Numerous rackets have been smashed on the court whenever he got frustrated or when the game was not going his way.
At the Cincinnati Masters in 2016, in a match against Borna Coric, he smashed three rackets before collecting himself. He still ended up losing the match.
Nick Kyrgios Smashes Racket at Cincinnati Open in 2016:
One of his most dramatic outbursts to date was at the 2018 Italian Open. He was playing against Casper Ruud where he ended up being disqualified and fined.
In 2015, had one of his most controversial moments when he made lewd comments to Stanislas Wawrinka’s then-girlfriend during a Montreal Match.
Wawrinka and Kyrgios Match:
Its All Just a Defense Mechanism
John Morris, Kyrgios former manager attests that this “bad boy” persona is simply a front to protect what he calls the “sweet, genuine, sensitive” persona inside.
Morris had mentored and worked with Kyrgios for 10 years. He said that the bravado and the bluster were not the real Nick. He also added that the tennis star is fine with playing the role of villain and that he is simply playing up to the “bad boy” moniker.
The former poster boy for bad on-court behavior has defended and cautioned Kyrgios in equal measures. McEnroe has also alluded to the Australian’s history with mental issues as a possible reason for his on-court behavior.
Struggles with Mental Health
In an interview in early 2022, Kyrgios opened up about his struggle with depression and self-harm which reached their peak at the 2019 Australian Open. He admitted that at the time he was lonely, depressed, and abusing drugs and alcohol.
In the interview, he said, “I’ve been through those times when it seemed as if those positive energetic vibes were never ever going to be reality.”
Many have attributed his on-court behavior to his struggles with mental wellness. Thankfully, the Australian has said that he is in a much better mental state these days.
“I’m proud to say I’ve completely turned myself around and have a completely different outlook on everything, I don’t take one moment for granted. I want you to be able to reach your full potential and smile. This life is beautiful,” he said.
Not About to Change Anytime Soon
In another recent interview, Kyrgios admitted that he has a hard time understanding why many tennis fans think of him as a bad boy of tennis.
“I don’t understand why they think of me [as a bad boy]. I’m 27 years old now, and Ive been playing like this since I was ten. I have always been very emotional and ambitious,” he said.
He also added that he is not going to change because he believes its what the fans want to see.
“I’m not going to change. Because I think the fans want to see exciting and intense games.”
He has also shown some self-awareness of the levels of anger that he gets. “If you lose, you will be angry. It’s normal, it’s human. Some show it more and some less.”
He Continues to Draw in Crowds
Despite his antics or maybe because of them, Kyrgios is one of the most attractive players in the ATP. His games draw huge crowds and according to him, tournaments even pay him around US$50,000 just to show up.
“I’m making millions of dollars right now, tournaments are still paying me 50,000 (AU$74,000) just to show up,” he said. He is not wrong. Kyrgios and his on-court antics may leave a bitter taste in the mouth but they are entertaining.
Nick is also capitalizing on his infamy at the moment. He has made a deal with streaming giant Netflix ad he will star in a docuseries that will follow his 2022 Wimbledon run.
The Most Fined and Most Punished Player in Tennis History
Aside from his many tournament successes, Nick can also claim infamy as being the most-fined and most punished player in the history of tennis. Throughout his career, he has had to play nearly half a million pounds in fines.
Fans may be pleased to hear though that all those fines have gone to charity. Kyrgios himself confirmed this fact but he did so true Kyrgios style.
He said: “So every time we get fined, they’re like it’s going to charity. I was like, ‘I don’t know why you would tell me that..”
Turning Over a New Leaf
After the explosiveness he displayed at Wimbledon, the Australian appeared calmer and more composed on his way to winning the 2022 Citi Open title his first since 2019.
He still made news but only with his every movement forward. Unlike Wimbledon where the headlines were dominated by his outbursts, this time, we got to see a calmer Kyrgios. Not only that, but he was also more consistent in his game.
Kyrgios wins Citi Open:
After the win which ended his title drought, he admitted that it was a very emotional moment for him.
How long this chiller and calmer version of Kyrgios will last, no one really knows. But he is still set to make a run of the US Open. Should he continue to remain consistent and less volatile, he may just have what it takes to finally win his first singles Grand Slam title.