Nick Kyrgios claims he's "given up" on winning Slams, says not everyone can be "gods" like Federer, Nadal & Djokovic

Nick Kyrgios acknowledges the crowd after reaching the third round at Wimbledon.
Nick Kyrgios acknowledges the crowd after reaching the third round at Wimbledon.

A day after completing a five-set victory over Frenchman Ugo Humbert in his Wimbledon opener, Nick Kyrgios made short work of Italian Gianluca Mager to reach the third round at the grasscourt Major.

Following his win, Kyrgios hailed Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as "tennis gods," but insisted he had no aspirations to be like them and that he was content being a "normal" guy.

"We cannot all be gods like Federer, Nadal or Djokovic," said Kyrgios. "They are people who inspire millions of people around the world, but there must be guys that a lot of people can relate to, who attract a lot of fans. I'm Nick Kyrgios, a normal guy, and I'm happy to be who I am."

In 2014, a then-19-year-old Nick Kyrgios announced himself on the big stage by stunning Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon. The Australian was immediately touted by many as the next big thing in tennis.

But seven years later Kyrgios remains a classic case of unfulfilled potential, as he is yet to even reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam. The Australian, however, declared that he is at peace with himself and has "given up" on winning Major titles.

"I am much more liberated than years ago, now I enjoy the competition, I have given up winning Grand Slams," said Kyrgios. "I know that many people may be offended, but they must respect my choice and what I do with my life. What I want is to have fun and that my matches are a spectacle."

Kyrgios, who has had many epic battles with the Big 3 of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, has polarized opinion in the tennis community.

While he has endeared himself to crowds across the world with his personality and unorthodox shot-making, which includes no-look winners, underarm serves, and tweeners, his antics have often riled up his opponents.

Embracing his reputation as tennis' ultimate entertainer, Kyrgios said he looked forward to putting on a show for spectators every time he stepped out on court.

"I love to see that people come to my matches assuming who I am and knowing that they will be able to witness a show," said Kyrgios. "I have seen many people in the first row talking to me at every point; they seemed like my coaches. It's crazy, they even asked me about Tottenham Hotspur. I get the feeling that people are eager to have fun and are excited to see tennis again.

The Australian pointed out that when the Big 3 retires, the sport would need players with punchy personalities and charisma to attract fans to stadiums.

"When the Big 3 retires, we are going to need people like that, who make tennis a spectacle and allow people who are willing to pay a ticket to see them live," said Kyrgios. "It is very good to have people like Rublev and Medvedev, but also you need another style of tennis player.
"An example is Auger-Aliassime. I think they have everything to have a large following, but they have to develop their charisma. The ATP must assume the role of promoting young people with a special personality and way of playing."

"Wimbledon has slowed down a lot over the years" - Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios has a blazing serve, powerful groundstrokes and decent touch, attributes that yield rich rewards on the grasscourts at Wimbledon. Unsurprisingly, some of his best Grand Slam results have come at the All England Club, where he has made it to the the second week thrice.

But Kyrgios noted that the Wimbledon courts have slowed down over the past few years. The Australian admitted that they remain some of the "best" courts to play on, but lamented the fact that attacking tennis is no longer being rewarded.

"I don't want to be misunderstood," said Kyrgios. "I'm going to make it clear that these are some of the best courts in the world, but I think all tennis players agree that they have slowed down a lot in recent years. The grass should be a surface that reward the players. Offensive players, good serve players, direct shots and cut shots, like Federer, for example."
"Now it's very different, you serve incredible, and they make very good returns. This is something that responds to commercial interests; it is more attractive to see long rallies in the television, but we are giving up the roots of tennis," Kyrgios lamented.

The slower grasscourts in recent years have meant the serve-and-volley style of tennis employed by many yesteryear champions like Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras has faded. Instead, modern players like Nadal and Djokovic have shown that Wimbledon can be conquered from the baseline.

According to Kyrgios, there is very little difference between today's grasscourts and clay, spelling the end of serve-and-volley tennis.

"I feel that a grass court and a clay court should be completely opposite, but now all the surfaces are very similar to each other," said Kyrgios. "I know that they are not going to do anything, there is nothing left to adapt, but obviously what we have here is not one. Usual grass court because it does not reward the style of play that was necessary to always apply to play well on this surface. Serve and volley tennis is over."
Edited by Arvind Sriram
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