There have been many players in the sport of tennis who were known for their antics on the court and were slammed by critics and fans across the globe. But, if there's any player in the current lot who is liked and hated equally by fans wherever he plays, it has to be Nick Kyrgios.
The match against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco, Mexico earlier this year is the perfect example of this where many people in the stadium were infuriated with the way Kyrgios was behaving but that anger didn't shatter him one bit. Instead, he rode on that and gave it back to the crowd verbally. But what should have been noticed more was his game, more than anything else.
Yes, he did make comments against some of the big names in the sport like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic which turned many tennis fans against him. The Australian, in all sense, shouldn't have said what the world heard on record.
Moving on from there, he did lose to Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon this year and the ambience this time was less hostile than what it was in their previous meeting. Kyrgios was still being himself, arguing with the umpire over the long breaks taken by Nadal in between points and so many other issues that were popping up in his head. Despite that, he did show some amount of maturity at some crucial junctures of the match which made him look very different from the player every tennis fan knew and somehow disliked.
In spite of all the controversies surrounding him, many enthusiasts of the sport would still believe that his game was a joy to watch. In fact, it is a spectator's delight to watch him play some magnificent drop shots and hit the serves on spot whenever he wanted to.
With all due respect to his talent, nobody was expecting Nick Kyrgios to win the ATP 500 Citi Open in Washington recently and even though there was no definite favourite in that tournament, Kyrgios was surely not on top in the contenders list for the title. But, if there was any tournament where Nick simply came on court, played his game, entertained the crowd without creating a ruckus, it will definitely be the week he spent in Washington and won a well-deserved title.
In fact, he did defeat some of his contemporaries en route to the title that includes the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev and proved that he was the better of the three, at least for that week.
Now comes the big question – can this be considered as the resurgence of Nick Kyrgios?
To be honest, there have been many tournaments where Nick Kyrgios surpassed expectations and made an average tennis enthusiast believe in him and then failed completely in the immediate tournament. He lost his first round match in Montreal immediately after the Citi Open, thereby proving the same.
Coming to Cincinnati, he played his first round match against the young Italian Lorenzo Sonego and defeated him, 7-5, 6-4. thereby oozing confidence on his way to setting up a second round clash with the Russian Karen Khachanov.
It will be their first meeting on tour and it is expected to be a blockbuster in terms of the quality of tennis as forehand is their strongest weapon and both are power hitters. If Kyrgios defeats Khachanov, he will have to play either Denis Shapovalov or Lucas Pouille in the third round.
If he overcomes this obstacle, he will be facing Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals and even though the chances of happening of that match look bleak, it's indeed a possibility which is going to be an eye-feast for the admirers of this sport.
Going back to the question, it is still unclear whether this is a resurgence of a brilliant story to be told in the sport. But one thing is clear and that is Kyrgios is willing to get better as he himself admitted that there are kids who look up to him whenever he steps on a tennis court.
He mentioned the same recently after his title win and there were mild reactions to it as both the press and tennis enthusiasts had already lost their hopes on the Australian since he did disappoint them on many occasions before.
In terms of maturity, that's a decent step going forward for Nick and if this continues, the tennis world might only get to see the game of the Australian and not the antics or the arguments on and off the court that he has with others. There was definitely a change in his approach to the game and let us hope this new version of Kyrgios is what the tennis world gets to see in years to come as this Kyrgios is just a joy to watch on the court.