Sun, Jun 23, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Kyrgios ‘brings electricity,’ but needs effort: McEnroe

Reuters, LONDON

Few former players are better qualified to try and fathom the inner workings of volatile Australian Nick Kyrgios than the original “superbrat” John McEnroe, but even the US great struggles to figure him out.

Kyrgios, 24, found himself in hot water again at Queen’s Club this week, where he ranted against umpires, line judges, photographers and even fans.

He was given a US$17,500 fine for several counts of unsportsmanlike conduct.

He even accused a line official of “rigging” his match and threatened to walk off during a first-round win over Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena before losing his cool again in a defeat by Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Amongst all the histrionics, Kyrgios lit up the event with some magical shot-making not even the likes of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal could conjure, which makes his habit of self-destruction all the more frustrating for those who still believe he can be a force.

McEnroe, the bane of officials’ lives in the 1980s with his tantrums, at least balanced his behavior with seven Grand Slam singles titles and long stints as world No. 1.

However, McEnroe believes that Kyrgios elevates the game like few others.

“He brings an electricity to tennis. That’s why everyone is trying to figure a way to work through this so he can get to a place where he can go out and feel free to compete and give the effort,” Eurosport analyst McEnroe said in an interview.

Kyrios has admitted to “tanking” or not trying in several matches throughout his career and in Rome this year walked off court mid-match after hurling a chair in a match against Caspar Ruud.

Deep into the third set against Auger-Aliassime on Thursday, he appeared to lose interest, barely running for serves and playing a succession of exhibition shots.

McEnroe said that the lack of effort was more concerning than the outbursts.

“I don’t care if he throws a chair on the court or does what he does,” he said. “The part that I have a problem with, and I am assuming 99 percent of the rest of the Tour do, is when you go out there and don’t seem like you are giving an effort half of the time for whatever reason. I don’t know why, I am not Sigmund Freud.”

While 39th-ranked Kyrgios appears not to care what other people think, he might live to regret not playing to his full potential, McEnroe said.

“We all think about that. No matter how well you do. Myself included. It would be hard to believe he wouldn’t think that,” McEnroe said. “He seems in certain ways not to care what people think, and in certain ways that can be empowering.”

Kyrgios made headlines before the French Open when in a podcast he said that world No. 1 Djokovic’s post-match celebrations made him cringe.

“He doesn’t need to say what he said about Novak in this podcast,” McEnroe said. “If you say Novak, he’s too busy waving to the crowd, is that the best you can come up with?”

“I mean come on, doesn’t he deserve it since he has won 15 Slams? He can do whatever the hell he wants,” he added.

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