There are few players that can command a tennis audience quite like Nick Kyrgios. Combining astonishing ability with a natural fearlessness and effortless charisma, the Australian doesn’t so much contest a big match as he performs it.
But if there’s showmanship, it’s also backed by serious firepower. The Australian Open boys’ champion in 2013, Kyrgios made one of the most impressive Wimbledon debuts as a 144th-ranked wildcard a year later. Saving nine match points against Richard Gasquet in the second round, Kyrgios famously upset Rafael Nadal on the All England Club’s centre court to reach the quarterfinals.
Two Grand Slams later Kyrgios was at it again, saving a match point in his fourth round with Andreas Seppi at Australian Open 2015 to become the first man since Roger Federer to reach two major quarterfinals as a teenager.
“Geez it’s been a rollercoaster,” said the awestruck Australian after exiting in the quarterfinals to Andy Murray. “It’s been a lot of fun but it’s been pretty stressful … but you know, I’ve enjoyed it.”
And it wouldn’t take long for Kyrgios to underline his big stage credentials even further. A first career meeting with childhood idol Federer at the Madrid Masters would see the teenager save two match points against the world No.2, another big name upset coming against world No.5 Stan Wawrinka in Montreal.
Soon the match wins turned to titles, Kyrgios claiming Marseille, Atlanta and Tokyo in 2016 to reach world No.13 in October, his season also measured by six wins over top-10 players.
In 2017, Kyrgios has taken his all-round entertainment package next level.
Stunning Novak Djokovic in two consecutive meetings early in the season, Kyrgios more recently claimed an upset over soon-to-be world No.1 Rafael Nadal to reach his first ATP Masters final in Cincinnati.
He also pushed Federer in one of the best matches of the 2017 season, the pair showcasing breathtaking skill and stunning competitive intensity in a Miami Masters semifinal spanning more than three hours.
Considered analysis of Kyrgios’ growing technical ability naturally followed, many pointing to a growing weapon in his serve, with 14 aces registered and only one break point surrendered. Others noted that the serve is far from Kyrgios’ only advantage.
“You really see how he’s evolving as a player and person. It was an exciting match with some great shot making,” said Federer.
Most important is that when John McEnroe points to Kyrgios’ ability to “shake things” up at the Laver Cup, the Team World captain is clearly not exaggerating.
“In Nick, you have an exciting young player who clearly thrives on a big stage and against the world’s best players,” McEnroe commented. “He’s a bold as he is talented.”
That’s particularly true in a team setting: Kyrgios has an individualist approach however performs best with others alongside him. Known for his close family focus, Nick travels whenever possible with his mother Nill and has had coaching assistance at some 2017 events from former world No.4 Sebastien Grosjean.
There’s also strong support from other colleagues. The Australian counts Murray as one of his best friends on the professional tour, explaining how the Grand Slam-winning Scot is “a guy that’s always been nice to me and always has my back”
As well as close bonds with many countrymen, Kyrgios enjoys a friendship with Team World colleague Jack Sock. After he was runner-up in Cincinnati, Kyrgios spent time with his American mate in his hometown of Kansas.
It’s unsurprising then that Kyrgios looks to Laver Cup as another opportunity to add a career milestone. “I love to draw on the energy that comes from being a part of a team and I can’t wait for the Laver Cup because I’ll be competing with guys who are also my friends,” said the world No.18.
“When John McEnroe and I got together and he asked me to be on the team and showed such faith in me, I was delighted to accept. Playing for one legend in honor of another is not something we get to do often.”
Prague’s 02 arena offers yet another big stage for a man who regularly thrives on them. A commanding Kyrgios performance is naturally expected.
A limited number of tickets are still available due to a release of production hold seats. Check availability.