The year’s second major tournament starts on Sunday, and once again all eyes will be on Rafael Nadal as he seeks to claim a record-breaking 12th title at Roland Garros.
Nick Kyrgios has long polarised opinion. In fact of late he has not just polarised but rather been pilloried for his various indiscretions.
I can safely say that I was an unabashed fan of Nick Kyrgios earlier in his career. I was happy to tolerate his on court antics.
I enjoy seeing tennis players with some personality rather than robotic ball fetching machines. Kyrgios is an on court presence that draws viewers to the game.
Nick Kyrgios did that both with his exhilarating tennis and his brash on-court demeanour. Yet as time rolled on the attitude and behaviour continued to deteriorate. Self admonishing at best, at his worst he tanked matches, stooped to new lows with his sledging of opponents and continued to direct frustrations openly at spectators.
His repeated ongoing indiscretions amid an alarming lack of insight brought the game of tennis into disrepute.
Over the last month, he seems to have turned things around. It is still too early in this so-called transformation to determine if he can maintain this level of playing consistency and improved behaviour, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Results have also started to improve with Kyrgios beating Djokovic on route to the semi-finals and quarter finals of the Mexican and Indian Wells tournaments respectively. He is still only 21 years old and that is by no means a justification for his previous actions, but it does allow him time to mature and reach his undoubted potential.
Unfortunately Kyrgios had to withdraw from the quarter final against Roger Federer due to a presumed gastrointestinal illness.
He has copped a level of criticism for not playing but this is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
If he withdraws due to illness he gets criticised for not playing and giving his all – a reflection of his previous attitude and behaviour. Conversely, if he played and got smashed – a likely outcome if playing hurt against a rampant Federer in hot conditions – highlighting the impact of illness post game will be viewed as a pathetic excuse from a sore loser.
Without knowing the details of his medical illness, he deserves the benefit of the doubt that he was not fit to play.
It is time we gave Nick Kyrgios another chance.