Nick Kyrgios is what tennis needs according to fellow Australian Max Purcell even though he rattles other players. The enigmatic Kyrgios has divided opinion within the sport due to his on-court antics, gaining a reputation for winding up players and umpires alike.
Kyrgios became the star attraction during Wimbledon recently despite the involvement of legends like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. His run to the final was littered with controversial moments, especially regarding the way he treated officials and other players. He was often seen swearing at line judges, his players’ box and even himself when the match was going against him.
However, some pundits and fans have seen his antics as good for the sport. Kyrgios’ behaviour made headlines around the world and more people tuned into his games later in the tournament as a result. His third-round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas was particularly noteworthy with the players participating in what is widely regarded as one of the most ill-tempered matches in tennis history.
The world No 47 has hence been credited with widening the appeal of the sport, attracting new fans that would never have been enticed to it otherwise. This is a view shared by fellow Aussie player Purcell. In an interview with the Metro the 24-year-old discussed the focus Kyrgios can bring to the sport.
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“I’m always going to be watching when Nick Kyrgios is playing, especially if he’s playing someone at the top,” Purcell said. “Nick’s going to rattle the guys at the top a lot. For a guy who isn’t at the top of the sport, and to still have his own charity… all the comments he gets for not being the greatest person, he does a lot of good.
“He brings more interest to tennis and that’s what we need. His on-court behaviour is not great, but he’s not doing it for no reason. There are a lot of screw ups from the officials. He’s not just blowing up at them because they’re doing nothing wrong.
“A lot of the time there’s a valid reason for it. Maybe not to the extent he goes to, but like I said he brings interest to the sport. If he blows up, it gets in the media and more people want to see what happens next.”
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Purcell was also keen to praise Kyrgios for his honesty when conducting interviews, believing his more natural responses help him appeal to wider audiences.
“He just does himself,” Purcell explained. “He doesn’t care what people think. Which is fine, there’s a lot of boring interviews out there. It’s nice listening to Nick’s honesty. There needs to be more of that in tennis. The way he answers questions is a lot more interesting.”
Kyrgios is set to return to the tennis court on Tuesday (1.30am UK time) for the first time since his defeat in the Wimbledon final. He lines up alongside fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis to take on Nicholas Mahut and Eduoard Roger-Vasselin in the men’s doubles at the Atlanta Open.