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What's stopping Nick Kyrgios from reaching the pinnacle in tennis?

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
182   //    19 Oct 2018, 00:39 IST

Nick in action on Day 2 in this year's Shanghai Masters
Nick in action on Day 2 in this year's Shanghai Masters

Nick Kyrgios is a man who needs no introduction as far as modern tennis is concerned. More than his game, his behaviour has made the headlines on numerous occasions. This is a well-known fact that shouldn't be ignored.

The moment he made his professional debut four years ago, he hit the headlines with eye-catching performances after sending Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon. He was one of very few players who defeated the Spaniard - as well as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - during their first meetings. This statement itself is enough to describe his array of on-court talents.

Frustration, needless antics and controversy

But what followed? Precisely the opposite of what everybody expected and was hoping for. His uncertainty and frustrations on-court were on full display, so naturally he was fined on countless occasions for needless incidents. Even despite this, experts persisted in describing him as one of the rarest talents on the tennis court.

Even in the ongoing Kremlin Open in Moscow, he displayed true grit in defeating the local hero, talented young Andrey Rublev. He broke the Russian's serve three times and showed dominance throughout their encounter. Just when everybody thought that the adventure has just began, he retired from his third-round match with an elbow injury.

Injuries, controversies and much more are influencing Kyrgios' career in the worst way possible. To top this, his temperament during tough situations in matches is an additional concern.

To any regular tennis viewer, it appears as though he is throwing the game away on purpose - specific examples where he just walked away midway through, stating he was unhappy about some officiating decisions or didn't feel like playing tennis. This type of behaviour spiraled as supporters would boo, adding yet more fuel to the fire and angering him further.

Kyrgios hit the headlines after an angry outburst at the 2016 Australian Open
Kyrgios hit the headlines after an angry outburst at the 2016 Australian Open

His excellent abilities and continuous potential

Coming to the analytics of his game, he has been described by many former players and experts as a feast to watch for the eyes. He has got variety in his game, which is easier said than done. His serve is both powerful and crucially, consistent - never tending to average less than 70%, whilst having strong forehand and backhand strokes too. 

He is what would be called elegance personified on-court, provided everything goes well on that day. Be it his sneak attacks at the net, unstoppable returns or highlight reel plays, he has got it all. Despite this, he is unable to dig deep into the majors or any ATP events.

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Kyrgios celebrating during a match on Day 5 of this year's Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart
Kyrgios celebrating during a match on Day 5 of this year's Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart

As a player, he is somewhat a mix between Andre Agassi and Roger Federer: two of the greatest players to have ever played the sport. Agassi's rebel-like behaviour is what Nick shares, although the Frenchman embraced his bad-boy image and it allowed him to become a champion.

Federer meanwhile, has the variety in his game. After all, he's 37 and still playing high-quality tennis, because there are a variety of different ways that he can win points against the best opponents who challenge him.

The combined qualities of Agassi and Federer in a single player provide a deadly partnership, which is why many are so frustrated by Nick's inability to perform at a consistent level when it matters most. As far as his temperament is concerned, he's already showing signs of maturity - which will only improve and become more prominent as he gets older. 

Once these two issues are resolved, there's no reason why Kyrgios can play big and win big tournaments. Easier said than done, naturally, but he has the relevant tools to, just needs to be motivated and avoid any more troublesome injuries, 

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