One of the more controversial stories making itself around the tennis world concerns the Facebook post by Christos Kyrgios, older brother to rising Aussie sensation, Nick Kyrgios.
The full post, which can be seen here, takes aim at the media and those who may have condemned his brother for his on-court attitude:
“And to all the media, ‘analysts’, ‘experts’ and other fkheads that find it so convenient to label this warrior ‘hot-headed, disrespectful & volatile’, keep your unqualified, useless & shit opinion next to your packet of chips on your desk where you are resting your fat ass.”
Christos concludes his rant by advising his brother to “quietly say ‘please be patients haters, there is so much more to come.’”
It is rather obvious that Christos is enraged by those who have questioned the character of his younger brother. But if you examine the press conference Nick had after his first round U.S. Open match in August, it is also clear that Christos has a far different perception of Nick than Nick does of himself.
To provide some context, Kyrgios took on Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the first round of the US Open. This was arguably the highest quality first round match of the tournament and as a result, tensions were flying high, especially for the passionate 19-year-old.
Kyrgios received a grand total of three code violations in the match—one for hitting a ball out of Court 17 and the other two for audible obscenities. The third code violation resulted in the young Aussie forfeiting an entire game. To be sure, a player being forced to concede a game is an extreme rarity and should illustrate how emotionally wound up Nick was during the match.
Ultimately, the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinalist would go on to win in four sets and was the first to admit that his emotions could be getting in the way.
Asked if he believed the outbursts could benefit him on the court, he replied, “Sometimes, but most of the times probably not.”
“I have been an emotional player most of my career. Maybe I will be able to manage it in the future. It’s a work in progress. It’s something that’s always been there.”
For Christos to argue that his brother isn’t volatile or hot-headed – especially in light of his own comments – renders his comments biased at best, and lies at their worst. Such a defense, while partially understandable, serves as an attack on the truth. Imagine if Christos was Nick’s coach and was telling him to ignore the people that are saying he is temperamental. Perhaps that’s for the best, as it is worth noting that Kyrgios went on to say that his temper is something he and his coaches have discussed in the past.
His temper, while something that most coaches wouldn’t have their players model, is unquestionably a function of his desire to win. He said as much in the Youzhny press conference, telling the members of the media that his temper “comes from having high expectations most of the time.”
Nobody can fault Kyrgios, or any player for that matter, for having high expectations. But high expectations cannot manifest into negative on-court energy. There is a time and place to be upset with yourself and the match court is not one of them.
The teenager is of the mercurial sort — his emotions gravitate from super positive to detrimentally negative. One minute, he’ll enthusiastically lift the fans to their feet and the next he’ll express his level of discontent with a primal scream. It’s no secret that he needs to improve on this part of the game, but in his defense, he is only 19-years-old. His game still has room for maturation, both physically and mentally. Over time, experience and practice will breed the necessary development and mold him into a player that knows how to keep his emotions in check. Novak Djokovic used to be a frequent racket-breaker, but stopped once he realized that he wasn’t doing himself any favors. Look where he is now.
If more tennis players shared Kyrgios’ desire to win, the tennis world would be home to a lot more great tennis players. But in the same breath, if more tennis players could detach themselves from the type of outbursts that Nick has on the court, the tennis world would also have more great tennis players.
Control is the key.