The inconvenient truth about Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios just made more by losing in the Wimbledon second round than most Average Joes make in a whole year.
Did you know that Nick Kyrgios has already won more prizemoney than Mark Philippoussis? Inflation his obvious enemy here, ‘Scud’ made $US6,987,402 ($10 million) during a career that took him to Wimbledon and US Open finals, 11 ATP titles and a career-high ranking of world No.8. Kyrgios, 24, has already banked $US7,289,850 ($10.4 million), having won five ATP titles and reached a best ranking of world No.13. His best Grand Slam results are a pair of quarter-finals, Wimbledon 2014 and Australian Open 2015, which are an increasingly distant memory. Philippoussis also twice won the Davis Cup. Australia expected far more from his career, after he beat Pete Sampras at the Australian Open aged 19, but he no one can ever take away those trophies. Philippoussis is held up as Australian tennis’ ultimate waster of talent, the legend that never was. Kyrgios has already out-earned his considerable career winnings, with a far more brazen ‘devil may care’ approach than Scud, and that’s before you even get to endorsements. The fact is that Kyrgios can carry on as he likes and retire rich. He’s on track to be a greater waste of talent that Philippoussis, with double the prizemoney. For the record, a dollar in Scud's heyday is worth about $1.50 now, so Kyrgios will end up in front by any measure. Playing the goose is a sustainable career for Kyrgios. Unmotivated by titles and rankings, there's no reason for him to change. He can keep going to the pub the night before playing 18-time Grand Slam champions , can waste energy during matches arguing with spectators and umpires, can engage in beefs with journalists and rivals, while dazzling and annoying them in equal measure with underarm serves. He can do all that and more, because that’s his lucrative meal ticket. Kyrgios moves the needle. He gets TV ratings, bums on seats, website clicks, social media engagement. He does that by being an anti-hero to many, a pure villain to many more. He gets lovers to watch him along with hordes of haters. He plays tennis just well enough to get by. He is utterly brilliant when he tries, having beaten all the greats of this era; Roger Federer (1 win), Rafael Nadal (3), Novak Djokovic (2), Andy Murray (1) and Stan Wawrinka (3). He is wildly entertaining even when he loses to Norwegian qualifiers like Casper Ruud, against whom he angrily launched a chair on to the court to get himself kicked out of the Rome Masters. Such a volatile set of potential outcomes whenever Kyrgios plays will ensure that he remains hot property in a sport lacking outrageous personalities. If Kyrgios truly cares little for tennis and leaving a legacy in the sport – ie. Grand Slam wins – then he can continue on as the sport’s novelty act and retire wealthy and content. Kyrgios once beat Nadal at Wimbledon as a 19-year-old wildcard. This time, he never threatened to win but at least he almost hit the mighty Spaniard with a ballistic forehand . Whatever, man. People watched. “We’d love to see him fulfill his full potential, but he’s a promoter’s dream,” former Australian player Sam Groth said on Sports Sunday . “Every tournament wants him because the other night he plays his first round and there’s half a million people watching a first-round match at Wimbledon; they got the same amount of people watching him play first round as they’re going to get watching the men’s final. “It doesn’t matter why they’re watching, that’s the thing. Sport’s not necessarily about playing for fun and a beer afterwards as it used to be. It’s a business.” Groth pointed to Channel Seven’s controversial decision to stick with that match – a five-set clash against Jordan Thompson – rather than switching to world No.1 Ashleigh Barty’s later match during its round one broadcast. He said that Kyrgios had effectively forced Seven’s hand. “Ash should be on TV, she’s out best tennis player, 100 per cent,” Groth said. “But it’s hard to jump out when there’s so many people committed to such an up-and-down roller-coaster match that was entertaining.” Groth said that some of Kyrgios’ antics were indefensible (his sledge of Wawrinka’s girlfriend immediately springs to mind), but the overall package was compulsory viewing. “For the stuff that he does wrong on court, you can’t defend that. He makes a lot of mistakes and he continues to make a lot of mistakes,” Groth said. “It doesn’t mean he’s not entertaining, and I think that’s the biggest thing.” Kyrgios made about $130,000 for being “entertaining” at Wimbledon. His diminished ranking of world No.43 put him in Nadal’s firing line in round two; yet making the final 64 still earned him more than most Average Joes make in a year. His ongoing spat with Nadal meant that the match transcended normal tennis fandom and became a major event. That is the unusual power of Kyrgios and we can either embrace it or condemn it, because it seems unlikely to change. Kyrgios is making a mint by goofing off while fluctuating between brilliant and dismal tennis. He has been doing it long enough that the odds of him ever winning a Grand Slam are lengthening and the chance of him winning multiple Slams is almost gone . "I know what I'm capable of. Just depends,” Kyrgios said after his Wimbledon exit at the hands of Nadal. “I'm a great tennis player, but I don't do the other stuff. I'm not the most professional guy. I won't train day in, day out. I won't show up every day. "So there's a lot of things I need to improve on to get to that level that Rafa brings, Novak, Roger have been doing for so long. Just depends how bad I want it. But, no, at the moment I don't think I can contend for a Grand Slam." Especially after the hideous redesign of the Davis Cup, tennis is 99 per cent an individual sport. You don’t have to care about Kyrgios. He isn’t wearing green and gold and representing Australia at Wimbledon, per se. The fact that nearly everyone has an opinion about him shows what an intoxicating figure he’s become in tennis. People care about whether he wins a Slam or not because most (rightly) think that he should. Really, that’s Kyrgios’ business. He can continue to do as he pleases and chances are, he will retire with far more money than any of the fans who have scolded him. Yet it will also be his problem alone if he retires with his bank account swollen, but a nagging voice in the back of his head asking, ‘What if?’