Sportsmen and women won’t view it like this, but their sole purpose is to entertain the audience; they’re there to give us all a reason to rise up out of our seats and throw popcorn in the air, or even to make us cry.
Whatever the emotion they provoke from within us, as long as they get one, they’re doing their job. Tennis’ Nick Krygios understands this requirement of him:
— Aliny Calejon (@alcalejon) March 16, 2017
Majority of our sporting heroes will aim to enthuse us by excelling in their fields: Rafael Nadal will always produce on clay, Novak Djokovic’s consistency (ignoring the recent speed-bumps) is his ‘special move’, and Andy Murray’s willingness to dig deep and muster every final ounce of energy he can, when his back is against the wall, continues to resonate with the spectators.
Now, Krygios is of an ability where he can – should the 21-year-old see fit – challenge some of the living legends that are still jostling it out at major events and in the world’s top 10 rankings. But for the controversial Australian, that’s all too easy and dull.
Questions are quite rightly levelled at the 2013 Australian Open boys’ singles winner, over his commitment and dedication. To succeed in any sport, especially one of an individual nature, you need to sacrifice everything, want nothing more and, ultimately, toe the party line.
Let’s take Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, three of the game’s greatest ever competitors. But the trio are also walking cliché robots on auto-pilot: crying on cue, sycophantic praising of their opponent and then the humble – overcome with a sense of faux embarrassment – bow and wave to the onlooking audience.
Krygios is made out to be the problem child of tennis, but could it not be more than he’s the only God damn normal one out there? The only one fans can truly empathise with?
When Federer won his 18th major title, after overcoming Rafael Nadal in this year’s Australian Open, everyone in the tennis world knew it had happened. However, when Krygios loses his cool with an umpire, smashes a racket in anger or goes on an expletive rant over the tennis bigwigs that sit in their ivory towers, the whole sporting world knows.
Just quietly, how good is Pokemon Go. Honestly been playing that more than tennis ???
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) July 24, 2016
Krygios, whether rightly or wrongly, puts tennis on the map with those who don’t care that he’s just become the first player in eight years to beat Djokovic in successive hardcourt events. But enjoy the entertainment he brings to a sport that goes about its business, like it’s whiter than white.
The ‘bad boy’ of tennis is giving the sport a much-needed shake-up; tennis is no longer a game for the white, middle-class with a court in each of their several Monte Carlo apartments.
Don’t lose your inner-renegade, Nick!