The side of Kyrgios that’s hard not to love

By on February 29, 2016

Nick Kyrgios gestures to the crowd after winning his match against Pablo Carreno Busta.Nick Kyrgios gestures to the crowd after winning his match against Pablo Carreno Busta.Source: AAP

DESPITE all of the criticism, all of the drama and all of the stories, one thing remains consistent around Nick Kyrgios.

The cheers once he gets on the court.

With the exception of a 15 minute patch in the second set, everything went Kyrgios’ way in a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 win over Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on day one of the Australian Open.

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Nick Kyrgios of Australia signs autographs for fans after defeating Pablo Carreno Busta.Nick Kyrgios of Australia signs autographs for fans after defeating Pablo Carreno Busta.Source: AAP

But that just meant the focus remained on the charismatic Aussie’s antics as he simultaneously powered and finessed his way to a second round match-up with Argentinian Pablo Cuevas.

Earlier in the day, Kyrgios poked fun at two AFL players who allegedly sent out nude photos that were then published in a tabloid magazine.

Kyrgios tweeted “Oh these ‘galoots’”, referencing his online clash with Adelaide Crows forward Taylor ‘Tex’ Walker who called him a ‘galoot’ for being fined for an on-court obscenity last October.

Asked why he sent out the tweet, Kyrgios explained he believes some athletes get off lighter than he does.

“(When) I get a little bit angry, I get hung out to dry a little bit,” the 29th seed said.

“I think that behaviour’s not really tolerated.”

It’s just another chapter in the Kyrgios story, whose escapades and different, youthful look bring a new element to a sport that often appears prim and proper — an element that often sees him criticised.

The story continued as Kyrgios entered Hisense Arena, as he somewhat ironically appeared wearing an all-white outfit — something he famously didn’t do at Wimbledon last year.

Yet when he removed his jacket, the 20-year-old instead was resplendent in a sleeveless salmon top, causing audible gasps from the capacity crowd.

That crowd, one that roared whenever one of Kyrgios’ miraculous, shouldn’t-be-performed shots went in, was so packed in fact there were still queues to get inside late in the match.

A solitary game in the third set proved to be a microcosm of the player that so many tennis fans adore and many others do not.

Kyrgios’ playful nature was apparent when as a ball flew high above a ballkid behind him, he yelled “catch that, catch that!” before approving when the ballkid did so to laughter and applause.

Then it was that famous intensity as he animatedly and almost furiously beckoned for a towel from another ballkid following the game’s end.

That preceded an obscenity code violation as Kyrgios cursed himself for missing on a break point during the closest part of the match, early in the second set.

Nick Kyrgios shakes hands with Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.Nick Kyrgios shakes hands with Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.Source: AFP

But as if he knew that could have turned some fans off, Kyrgios turned on the glamour with a series of points late in the crucial second set that looked more like Harlem Globetrotters moves than those of a seeded Grand Slam player.

An audacious drop shot, followed by a brilliant return by Carreno Busta that Kyrgios himself followed with a stunning return of the return.

An instinctive smash at the net with reflexes that would have done Mr Miyagi proud.

There was even a jump shot like one of his favoured NBA players at one stage, although it caused him to lose the point in question.

Through all of it, the good and the bad, the partisan crowd didn’t seem to care, as they often don’t at Melbourne Park when a local is in action.

There were the customary ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi’ chants and plenty of friendly call-outs, such as the fan who yelled out “we don’t want to go home just yet Nicky” as Kyrgios ran out to a 4-1, 0-15 lead in the opening set.

A sighting of Kyrgios’ close mate and injured Aussie young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis on the big screen received one of the loudest ovations of the night as he sat in Kyrgios’ family and friends section.

Fans cheer or Nick Kyrgios.Fans cheer or Nick Kyrgios.Source: AAP

Mates are clearly important to Kyrgios, something that was clear after his match but before he spoke to the media.

Before Kyrgios’ own press conference, young Aussie Omar Jasika spoke following his maiden Grand Slam victory.

The assembled media were easily outnumbered by the group that walked in just before any questions were asked of Jasika.

It was Kyrgios and the friends who had so loudly spurred him on in the front row at Hisense Arena during his match, here to support their young mate.

They didn’t ask any questions, but when asked about Jasika later, Kyrgios spoke of his closeness with the 18-year-old.

“We’ve been really tight for a long, long time now,” he said.

“(With) me and him, I sort of play the big brother. We used to sleep at each other’s house and stuff like that when we were training together.

“To see him actually have success at that level is really, really good to see.”

Add to that what happened earlier in the day, when Kyrgios pulled a kid out of the crowd for his training session to have a hit around, and a different picture of him emerges.

A picture that deserved 10,000 people erupting as he dominated at his home grand slam.


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