“We need a Clown for this circus” – Roger Federer
These words were uttered by Roger when he was down 1-5 in the second set tiebreaker.
You can understand his frustration. The young brigade don’t normally put up much of a fight after losing the first set to one of the greatest players of all time. Federer’s record upon winning said first set was 901 wins against 67 losses.
Make that 68.
And, while you’re at it, put an asterisk next to that number and write: ‘yeah, this Kyrgios kid is for real’.
Admittedly, it is peculiar this would have to be acknowledged. He did beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon did he not?
True, but overcoming a great of the game on Centre Court is no longer the validation it once was. Just ask Sergiy Stakhovsky, Lukas Rosol and Steve Darcis, Rosol eliminating Nadal in 2012, Darcis doing the same in 2013, while Stakhovsky sent Federer packing that same year.
With the benefit of hindsight, these matches have proved one time peaks in otherwise pedestrian careers (though a lofty peak at that, it must be said).
So when Nick became the latest player to rock the tennis world at Wimbledon, many may have thought he got lucky, destined to be resigned to yet another track on an album of one-hit Wimbledon wonders.
But his victory over Federer at the Madrid Masters, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (14-12), validates his credibility as a future star of the game.
But even the term ‘future’ upsets many.
Indeed, in beating Federer, Kyrgios became the 6th player to beat Rafa and Roger in his first head to head battle with them. But, more importantly, he is the ONLY one to accomplish such a feat while both were ranked in the Top 10. Having just turned 20, he sits at 35th in the ATP rankings and, following his successes at Madrid, will climb once again. The tournament he played before this, the Estoril Open, culminated in a finals berth.
Too often the hashtag ‘NKRising’ is used, implying Nick has been gradual in his rise up the ATP hierarchy, when in actual fact he has been nothing but. He has been rapid, imposing himself on the behemoths of the game, and doing it at the biggest of tournaments. Beneath that undeniable swagger lies an equally undeniable confidence, one not in any way daunted by the magnitude of the occasion or calibre of the opposition.
Too many seem to think Nick succeeds in spite of his on-court personality, when in fact he succeeds because of it. Sure, there are moments (such as his exasperation at a line judge during the first set against Federer) where such passion can prove counterproductive (he received a code violation as a result of his outburst).
But the positives of said attitude far outweigh these negatives, as his craving of the highest challenges tennis has to offer, as well as his success in rising (so far) to meet such challenges, quickly quell any notions of Nick proving a mere flash in the pan on the ATP circuit.
Forget him being a future threat at the majors and all events that follow.
Nick Kyrgios is a force to be reckoned with right now.