Nick Kyrgios is not just one of the most divisive figures in tennis, but in sport in general. In a recent poll held in Australia, Kyrgios was voted the second most hated athlete of the decade, behind only Oscar Pistorious, jailed for murdering his then girlfriend. This may seem harsh, but given his on and off-court demeanour since bursting onto the tennis scene, it is not that difficult to see how he could position so highly on such a negative list.
Whilst it is indeed becoming harder and harder to defend, not to say justify, Kyrgios's antics, one cannot help but realise how essential he is for the continuing prosperity of tennis. For, when the Australian is playing at his highest level, he is virtually unbeatable. From his blistering serves, to his bombastic groundstrokes, Kyrgios plays an exciting high-risk style of tennis that looks amazing when it comes off.
He has proven himself against some of the best players on tour, having beaten the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, famously beating the latter at Wimbledon in 2014. Interestingly, Kyrgios is just the third man in tennis history to beat all of the Big 3 at the first chance of asking. However, more impressively for Kyrgios than for the other two players who have achieved this, Kyrgios did it whilst the Big 3 were all at or near their peaks, which shows what a truly special talent he is.
Paul Annacone, former coach to both Sampras and Federer, claimed in 2017 that Kyrgios is the most talented player to burst onto the tennis scene since the Swiss maestro - Federer himself and it is easy to see why.
Although tennis has always been a very popular sport, thanks to the efforts of Roger Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. But, this golden era of tennis is soon coming to a close and because of it, we need to look to the future generation to see how the sport may look under their rulership. Whilst the Big 3 has undoubtedly set the bar higher than it has ever been, they have been criticised at times for being too friendly to one another. Compared to former generations this is undoubtedly true. Whilst Djokovic is viewed as somewhat of a pantomime villain when he is pitted against Federer and Nadal, he's still loved the by legions of fans the world over.
People love theatre and Nick Kyrgios can bring that. He doesn't need to be squeaky clean and likeable like some of his contemporaries, all he has to do is rediscover his form and start winning some major titles.
His talent is undeniable and some argue he is the most talented of the NextGen, and yet he has little to show for that. If he were to do this, he would become the perfect antithesis to the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas in what promises to be one of the all-time great rivalries.
Kyrgios works for the crowd, for and against him, better than any of the NextGen and he brings attention to the sport in much the same way. However, this will soon fade if he doesn't position himself as a major contender for the sport's biggest prizes.He has the making of a future world number one and Grand Slam winner, 'all' he has to do is win consistently. This is something we should all wish for, whether one likes Kyrgios or not, he brings an extra dimension to tennis that the sport needs to stop it becoming too politically correct and stale.
And this is why it is not just Nick Kyrgios who needs tennis, but also that tennis needs Nick Kyrgios.