Mats Wilander, the former world No.1. predicts Nick Kyrgios can land a major title and dismissed suggestions the controversial Australian is a “villain”
I’m not sure what he’s feeling on the inside, but he cares about winning tennis matches and I think that is why he is so emotional at times, but it is fun to watch, and he is a crowd favourite wherever he goes Mats Wilander
Kyrgios was involved in bust-ups with a fan and a line judge as he battled through a roller-coaster five-setter against Britain’s Paul Jubb in the opening round at Wimbledon.
He admitted to spitting at the “disrespecting” member of the crowd, calling a line judge “a snitch” and questioning the eyesight of the umpire.
But Wilander backed the 27-year-old who has made the quarter finals at The Championships and the US Open to succeed at the top.
Wilander said: “My take on Nick Kyrgios is that I am happy that he is here at Wimbledon. I am happy that he wins five-set matches; that he is trying that hard.
“To me, he looked really good against Jubb. Of course, he played a Brit, so obviously, the crowd is going to be a little bit louder and be cheering for the Brit than Kyrgios. It was an emotional game, and I love seeing Kyrgios really focused.
“I don’t think he is a villain at all. I really enjoy watching him play. When he tries hard, he is one of the best players in the world; most probably he still has his best tennis ahead of him.
“I still feel that he has a big shot at winning a big tournament, especially on the grass at Wimbledon. I don’t think he’s a villain; I think he’s a really nice guy and he is entertaining the crowd.
“I think it [his emotional on-court displays] is just him; some players get upset, some players get nervous.
The Eurosport commentator added: “I’m not sure what he’s feeling on the inside, but he cares about winning tennis matches and I think that is why he is so emotional at times, but it is fun to watch, and he is a crowd favourite wherever he goes.”
Jubb also feels Kyrgios is set for big things but hopes he can enjoy the ride more.
He said: “For the most part I was trying to stay in my own lane and block all that stuff (the outbursts) out.
“It’s back and forth. It’s the crowd going at him and him sometimes firing them up, and it just escalates. I don’t like to see that stuff. I want him to be happy with his career and playing.
“I don’t like to see him not enjoying his time and getting into these battles with the crowd and things like that.
“I wish him all the best. He’s such a good player and he’s probably heard it all before with his potential. I hope his relationship with the tennis world gets better: more smiles and a bit less controversy.
“He’s a big influencer to many people and has a big impact on many people. I wish him the best and I’m sure he’s going to do many more big things in tennis.”
* Quotes from Eurosport and talkSPORT