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The Australian sporting public lost interest in Bernard Tomic some time ago.
Whether it was returning a serve with a racquet handle, a number of mono-syllabic interviews or a short-lived stay in the jungle in Africa, we just stopped caring. Even an ATP tour victory a few weeks ago was met with very limited interest.
We are going in the same direction with Nick Kyrgios now, although a stay in the jungle may not yet be on the cards. We gave Nick a little more time because he loved representing Australia at the Davis Cup and he occasionally showed us glimpses of how good he could be.
However, his meltdown at the Shanghai Masters, highlighted by those “don’t care” drop shots, heated arguments with the umpire and then the ultimate disrespect to the crowd by checking his mobile as he walked off the court, means I and countless others have finally had enough.
Australia wants it sporting stars to fight hard and succeed. We saw it with the Australian team cricket securing that miraculous draw in Dubai, we saw it with West Coast coming from behind to win the 2018 AFL grand final and we saw it countless times with Lleyton Hewitt scrapping for every point.
Hewitt wasn’t loved by the Australian public when he started on tour. He was widely regarded as a bit of a brat wearing his cap backwards and carrying on way too much.
But as he grew up, we grew to admire him. We knew when he went on court, he was going to fight for himself and he was going to fight for Australia. The success then came with Wimbledon and US Open titles.
Kyrgios undoubtedly has more talent than Hewitt but he doesn’t have the fight. That’s what makes him so frustrating to watch. He could win Grand Slam titles. He is good enough.
We have seen signs of Kyrgios growing up as well. But, at 23, you would think that he finally knows what he wants. I think he does know and it isn’t Grand Slam titles. That’s his choice and that’s ok. I don’t dislike him because of that, but I also don’t need to support him.
After Christmas, the Australian summer of tennis will get underway, culminating with the Australian Open in Melbourne. Nick Kyrgios will at some stage look like he is some sort of chance to win. However, I think that, at some point, Nick will lose interest and his game will follow.
Australian fans will have a number of options this summer, with Alex de Minaur on the verge of an Australian Open seeding after a breakout season, Matt Ebden in career best form and even John Millman looking for more Grand Slam success.
All are ranked in the top 40 and all have a chance of getting to the second week. De Minaur has Lleyton Hewitt firmly in his corner and has a game very similar. At only 19, he will be one to follow for many years to come.
On the women’s side, there will also be high hopes for Ash Barty and Daria Gavrilova, with Barty inside the WTA top 20.
I will happily eat my words if either Tomic or Kyrgios go deep into the second week of the Australian Open, but I don’t think I will have to. It’s time to focus our support on other Australian players.