McDonald: Is Nick Kyrgios Good For Tennis?

Tennis needs a villain.

The sport needs a bad guy for fans to rally against.

You can’t have a bunch of Batmans and no Joker – and we’re not taking about Novak.

For years you have had a bunch of humble nice guys rule the sport that frankly it becomes boring.

Remember baseball is never better then when the Yankees are winning and football needs the Dallas Cowboys or more recently, the New England Patriots to continue its dominate rule.

Simply put, sports need someone to root against just as much as to pull for. It makes it more fun.

So maybe 20 year-old Nick Kyrgios is the answer in tennis. Maybe the Mohawked Aussie can make the sport more popular, not destroy it.

Simply put, he’s good for tennis.

Remember, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and his off the cuff comment to Stan Wawrinka about the Swiss’s relationship problems sparked outrage throughout the world.

But guess what. It also put the sport front and center in the news. It was talked about from all sides.

And tonight a first round match against No. 3 seed Andy Murray became a must watch rather than a Scottish showcase.

“I would say it was exciting for me,” Kyrgios said. “You know, I love playing these types of guys. Obviously I would have liked to play him deeper in the draw. Somebody has to play him. I think he’s probably in the best form of his life. He can go really well, potentially win it.

“It is what it is. I thought I hung tough out there tonight, competed well, feel like I’m getting him ready for the next round.”

Cocky, arrogant and temperamental. Those were the traits that made John McEnroe great and US fans loved him. Johnny Mac was a jerk, but he was our jerk and now one of the great personalities in the game, even in his mid-50s.

Kyrgios is that type of player, who is unrepentant from the Wawrinka incident. He was asked about it and brushed off the question.

“I’d like to think that I’m going to learn from it,” he said. “I think I have. I think I’m on the right path. I don’t think any of us in this room right now were perfect at 20. Speak up if you were.”

Maybe Kyrgios will learn from his mistake and become a model little tennis player. It worked for Andre Aggasi.

Or maybe not.

“The funny thing is, myself, Thanasi (Kokkinakis)– well, I don’t think Thanasi is in that category,” he said. “Myself and Bernard (Tomic), it’s so funny, Bernard, he’s harmless. He’s just a normal kid. I don’t really understand where he gets this reputation from, or where I get it from at all.

“We show emotion out there. We might not be the most usual tennis players you see. Somehow we got this reputation that’s just ridiculous.”

That’s the jerk for you. It’s never his fault. Kyrgios says he’s learning but we all know he’s not.

It’s good though, because tennis needs it. The sport needs someone to hate, just as much as it needs its heroes.

It makes for compelling stories.

“Still people in the crowd that are unhappy with what happened,” he said. “And that’s only normal.”

Nick Kyrgios don’t change. The sport needs you to be its jerk.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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