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Wimbledon 2022: Nick Kyrgios, the bad boy of tennis, is on a roll

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist

It was exactly two minutes earlier than Nick Kyrgios began complaining on Wednesday, and the solely shock was that it took him that lengthy.

Kyrgios, the self-styled bad-boy of tennis, saved his Wimbledon marketing campaign going with a straight-sets, quarterfinal victory over Chile’s Cristian Garin. As on each step of his angst-filled, tantrum-throwing, snark-laden journey to the final 4, he begged the query — is he good for tennis, or bad?

It is no easy question, for tennis and its troublemakers have a lengthy historical past. Kyrgios is an unmistakably naughty boy and delights in being so, willingly snarling his manner into arguments with, nicely, nearly everybody.

Line judges cop his ire for daring to make calls which are outdoors his favor, umpires hear his disgruntlement for all method of causes, and match referees obtain his blasts as a result of they’re the final line of officialdom.

Opponents get taunted and baited with underarm serves, theatrical bows to the stands, sniping remarks, and multi-level thoughts video games, particularly if, like world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas confirmed in the second spherical, they’re visibly affected by it.

Ball youngsters get advised off in the event that they don’t get Kyrgios his bananas promptly sufficient. Reporters who dare increase their fingers throughout a press convention danger direct confrontation in the event that they ask him about his antics. His field — together with his girlfriend and coach — are additionally routinely in the verbal firing line.

In his first match in London, Kyrgios spit in the course of a fan who was heckling him and was fined $10,000 for the effort. After his spherical of 16 conflict, he claimed that “all publicity is good publicity.” A day later, it was revealed he faces costs alleging he assaulted a former girlfriend in his native Australia final yr.

If you’re not notably accustomed to Kyrgios and all this has you pondering that he’s a fairly unappealing character, you gained’t be overwhelmed with conflicting debate.

Yet the conundrum for tennis is actual and current. For Kyrgios supplies compelling theater each time he steps on the courtroom.

It is a responsible pleasure for some, however good luck making an attempt to cease watching in case you’re tuned in to at least one of his matches. There’s at all times one thing going on, and for a sport that has nowhere close to the mainstream recognition in the United States that it used to, watchability is value its weight in gold.

Kyrgios’ recreation in itself is electrifying. He has a easy rocket of a serve and ways that function extravagant shot-making and quirky drop photographs. You by no means know what’s coming subsequent. In spherical three, he channeled rope-a-dope ways (his phrases), fooling opponent Brandon Nakashima into pondering he was injured, earlier than roaring again to life to take the match in 5 units.

He’s 27, and Friday’s semi towards Rafael Nadal will likely be the first time he has reached this late stage of a Grand Slam. But in some ways, he is a throwback to a time when the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Conners would rant and rave and use the crowd to their benefit.

For the previous couple of a long time, the males’s recreation has been constructed as a substitute on the excellence of a trio of all-time greats. Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic are usually thought of effective sporting ambassadors, however for all their brilliance, even they will’t toy with the feelings of a crowd fairly like Kyrgios.

You’d suppose that the genteel lawns and well mannered methods of Wimbledon is perhaps an unwell match for him, but it surely’s not the case in any respect, actually not this yr. Kyrgios’ monster of a serve is even hotter on grass, and the traditionally upper-crust London crowds recognize an entertainer extra today, reasoning — with some benefit — that bad boys give higher worth in your ticket value.

Kyrgios has at all times possessed immense expertise. At 19, he beat Nadal at Wimbledon, however he has didn’t dwell as much as his early promise for a lot too lengthy. He is presently located at No. 40 in the rankings whereas enjoying a restricted schedule as a result of he didn’t fancy spending an excessive amount of time outdoors Australia.

As is at all times the case with such characters, everybody has one thing to say.

 Tsitsipas describes him as having an “evil facet” to his persona.

Fellow Australian and former Wimbledon champ Pat Cash didn’t maintain again, both. “He’s introduced tennis to the lowest stage I can see so far as gamesmanship, dishonest, manipulation, abuse, aggressive habits to umpires, to linesmen,” Cash advised the BBC. “Something has acquired to be executed about it. It’s simply an absolute circus. It’s gone to the absolute restrict now.”

Kyrgios’ response? He’s “blissful” that his success is making folks mad — and he’ll carry on doing “what I would like.”

He is the type of participant who forces robust opinions a technique or one other, a true love-him-or-hate-him type of persona. You don’t have to look at him for greater than a jiffy to make your thoughts up, selecting to solid him as a vastly entertaining anti-hero or a Machiavellian pantomime villain.

As ever, the fact seemingly falls someplace in the center, leaving us simply realizing a couple of issues. Kyrgios’ Wimbledon run is persevering with on, perhaps all the option to the finish. 

As for whether or not he’s good for tennis or bad for it, the reply is — most likely — each.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the creator of the FOX Sports Insider e-newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.

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