Nick Kygrios, the 26th seeded player at Wimbledon 2015, will play in the second week at the All England Club for the second straight season. Last year the young Aussie won his match on the second Monday against Rafael Nadal; this year, if Kyrgios will make the quarterfinals again, he will need to best Richard Gasquet. Considered by many to be a future star, Kyrgios remains a player with both a lot of potential, a lot of style, – and certainly a lot to prove.
Heading into Wimbledon 2015’s fourth round, it’s not difficult to see why many think Kyrgios has a very bright future on tour. He’s 6’4″, he’s only 20 years old, and he’s already eliminated proven players from big tournaments. Besides Nadal at Wimbledon 2014, Kyrgios defeated Raonic this season at the All England Club, and the Aussie eliminated Roger Federer from Madrid not long ago. To date, the young Aussie has made the quarterfinal round of two majors with his upcoming contest against Gasquet a chance to increase that total.
One statistic that is really worth noting with Kyrgios is that there are no players ranked higher than him at the moment that are also younger. The Aussie, who just turned 20 years old in April, is currently ranked 29th in the world (June 29th, 2015 rankings) and every player ranked higher at the moment is older than that. In fact, within the Top 100 Kyrgios is the fifth youngest player; with some experience winning big matches, he promises to grow into a major star in the seasons ahead.
However, those that are looking at the future and wondering who will eventually supplant Novak Djokovic on top of the tennis rankings should probably look further than Kyrgios. To date, the 6’4″ Australian has not won a title on the tour level and, based on age/rankings correlations, Kyrgios appears to be a lesser talent than some of his peers.
Most notably, Borna Coric, a player who is just 18 years old, is only slightly lower ranked than Kyrgios. The Croat, although eliminated from the current Wimbledon draw already, is ranked 39th in the world – not far behind the Aussie. If you factor in some growth then Coric seems likely to crack the Top 30 by the time he is Kyrgios’ age.
What I also like about Coric over Kyrgios is the former’s body type. At 6’1″ he’s not a towering player and, to be honest, I think that improves his chances of becoming an elite player. It seems that most of the players that spend a lot of time in the Top 5 are in the 5’11” to 6’3″ range. Players that are shorter than that are often too short to generate elite power during matches while those that are taller than that range go through injury woes for major parts of their careers.
Furthermore, Coric, although we’ve only gotten a glimpse of him so far, appears to be a bit more down to Earth than Kyrgios – and being down to Earth is a good thing in tennis. The Aussie certainly has substance on court but he also has some flare off the court and I’ve often wondered if he’s going to go bling-bling and get distracted by lifestyle or ‘being cool’ at some point.
For example Kyrgios recently spoke publicly about his sex life, stating, as if we all wanted to know, that he did not refrain from sex prior to matches.
Furthermore Kyrgios recently featured in Vogue magazine, a publication that focuses more on style than substance.
Mark Guiducci of Vogue wrote of the Aussie:
In person, Kyrgios has the lankiness of a Great Dane not fully grown and the swagger of a jock on the verge of greatness. He loves Drake’s new mix tape, recently bought himself a baby blue BMW M3, and offers expletive-laced rave reviews of Chipotle; as for that hair, he cuts it every four days. The diamond earring he’s wearing is a square pave situation he picked up in London, and it’s his favourite `because it’s the biggest`.
Kyrgios, as far as Aussie’s go, reminds me more of Bernard Tomic than anyone that is going to maximize his potential (like Lleyton Hewitt). But In a world overflowing with superficiality Kyrgios’ bling-bling should make him a very marketable athlete.
I fully expect to see the Aussie in photo-shoots and in music videos but I don’t think he’s the chosen one for tennis among the up-and-coming contenders. I think Milos Raonic, despite the Wimbledon 2015 loss directly to Krygios, will generally beat the Aussie. I think Grigor Dimitrov will generally do better than Kyrgios as well. I also like Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, and maybe even Jack Sock or David Goffin a little bit better than Kyrgios.
But, among all them, if I’m picking someone right now to go No. 1 in the long-termed future then I’m going with Coric.
Kyrgios, who is 0-3 against Andy Murray, has yet to play Novak Djokovic. When it happens, given the ATP’s general straight elimination format, I think the Serb’s game relative to Kyrgios’ will afford the Aussie plenty of time to drive his BMW, to offer “expletive-laced reviews” of whatever, to keep the lines in his hair sharp, and to look for big diamonds.
What I think we’ll see in the future is that tennis isn’t about Vogue magazine giving you a thumbs up before you’ve even won a 250-level title on tour. It’s about substance over style and having maturation/wisdom well beyond one’s years.