The Tennis Debate: Nick Kyrgios’s magnetism is badly needed with Big Four finally on the wane

Charlie Eccleshare
The Telegraph
No-one divides opinion quite like Nick Kyrgios - afp
No-one divides opinion quite like Nick Kyrgios - afp

Nick Kyrgios is a bit like a 22-man shoving match in a game of football. 

Yes, they set a bad example to children, yes they can be unedifying, and yes they can sometimes overstep the mark. 

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But both are also extremely entertaining and amusing to watch, and there's usually no real harm done. 

Kyrgios, as has been well documented, is tennis’s answer to marmite (or, given his nationality, should that be vegemite?). For some the 22-year-old is an enfant terrible whose sledging of opponents and occasional tanking are disgraceful examples of his unsportsmanlike behaviour. For others he’s a fascinating young man who plays majestic tennis and is merely hitting a few bumps in the road as he tries to cope with being a professional athlete. 

Wherever one stands on the debate though, surely no-one can deny his magnetism. And with the ‘Big Four’ era seemingly on the wane at last, tennis desperately needs some new stars.

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As a tournament director, selling tickets to a Kyrgios match is a cinch - fans are likely to get either scintillating shot-making or an existential crisis, or a combination of both. Who wouldn’t want to see that? 

And who wouldn’t want to hear Kyrgios’s post-match analysis of why he has just been beaten? Forget the “it was a tough match that could have gone either way” platitudes, Kyrgios once said of a Wimbledon defeat to Andy Murray: "To be honest, I woke up this morning and played computer games. Is that the greatest preparation? I don't know. But it was fun.”

Imagine now you’re that tournament director trying to sell tickets to, say, a regulation Tomas Berdych match.  

What’s your pitch there? “Roll up, roll up. Get your line and length groundstrokes. You want percentage tennis played to a T? Have I got the guy for you!”

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This is not meant as a slight on Berdych, who has been a model of professionalism and consistency for more than a decade. 

It’s just that sport should be about variety, and star quality, and above all fun. Kyrgios is a hyperactive amalgamation of all has all of those qualities , and at a time when tennis has been producing serve-bots like Milos Raonic and nice-but-bland Marin Cilic types, it’s stimulating to have someone a little bit different, and let’s face it a little bit unhinged.

It’s probably unfair that the model pros generate so much less interest than the mercurial Kyrgios, but it's human nature to be more intrigued by the mad than the mundane. 

And the great thing about tennis is there’s room for both - try for example to find similarities with David Ferrer’s game style and Kyrgios's. It's impossible - it would be like comparing swimming lengths to playing water polo. 

The Aussie certainly has his faults, but we shouldn't take his misdemeanours too seriously, and I can't wait to see which way the Kyrgios roulette wheel spins at the Australian Open over the next two weeks. 

Where do you stand on the Nick Kyrgios debate? Have your say in the comments section below

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