Nick Kyrgios ruffled the feathers of Rafa Nadal, officials and traditionalists as he exited Wimbledon.
Nick transcends tennis but I think the problem we all have with him is the occasions when he doesn’t even look like he’s trying – we don’t ask anything else of professional athletes Mats Wilander
The Australian called the umpire a “disgrace”, produced underarm serves, shouted at his guest box and blasted the ball straight at Nadal’s chest as the two-time champion beat him during their “grudge” second-round showdown.
It was the latest display from a player with a reputation for doing and saying what he wants and to hell with the consequences. And showing no contrition on reflection.
But the maverick has the backing of former world No.1 Mats Wilander, a seven-time Grand Slam winner.
Wilander said: “There is a place in the game for the way Nick played (against Nadal). There is no difference between that and Ilie Nastase’s behaviour in his day, John McEnroe’s behaviour too.
“You look at the place in the game they have now and they clearly brought something different. John brought a temper and perfection.
“Nick is bringing artistry, entertainment – so long as he is playing to try to win like he did (against Nadal). It’s not a popularity contest.
“Nick transcends tennis but I think the problem we all have with him is the occasions when he doesn’t even look like he’s trying – we don’t ask anything else of professional athletes.
“I love entertainment, I love what he does, I love the under-hand serves. It’s different, but it’s allowed. We are pushing the rules all the time. Football is the most popular sport in the world and they are stretching the laws of the game all the time.
“Show me that you care about winning and losing and then no one would care about Nick Kyrgios winning or losing. That’s perhaps where he differs slightly to McEnroe or Nastase.
The Eurosport expert quoted in the Daily Express said: “In my opinion, this game between Kyrgios and Nadal was the most exciting second-round match in Wimbledon history.”
Like it or no, it seems, Kygrios is box office. People are entertained by such behaviour.
He said: “I am always willing to go out there and try and put on a show. I know people that bought a ticket probably had a great day. A lot of good matches on that court. That was a really good match. I enjoyed myself a lot out there.
“At times, I was looking around. This is Wimbledon, playing Rafa. I’m having a lot of fun. I was a little different, underarm serves. A lot of people watching, so.”