Kyrgios July 07, 2022, 05:45:59 pm Now he’s probably into the Wimbledon final (as Rafa is struggling physically and might not even play), what do we think of him? The assault charge laid in Canberra this week clouds the sporting issues. His ex-girlfriend says the timing had nothing to do with her and that’s almost certainly right. But why couldn’t the cop who laid it have waited a week to do so? Maybe s/he’d been lazy and all the coverage from Wimbledon reminded him/her that s/he needed to do his/her job. Anyway, it has to be put to one side as we don’t know what’s alleged other than it involves grabbing. The incident occurred when Kyrgios moved on to his present girlfriend. Many scenarios can be imagined but there’s no point in getting ahead of the facts. The seriousness of the alleged behaviour is unknown as is the strength of the allegation. Let’s leave it there.The quality of Kyrgios’ tennis can’t be doubted. His service is a nightmare for his opponent as he doesn’t have any physical tells to help the opponent anticipate where it’s going and Kyrgios doesn’t have set strategies that can be decoded. Add that to his big serving on both 1st and 2nd serve (while rarely double faulting) and the fact he serves as soon as he moves into his stance and Kyrgios can rip through a service game without giving his opponent any time to think.He’s also the opposite of a grinder. He likes to play every shot in the book during every match, from drop shots to underarm serves to tweeners and more. On the other hand, Djokovic is just a wall whose specialty is getting back every shot his opponent plays and getting back into optimal position to play the next. He’s brilliant, no doubt, and charging the net against him isn’t usually going to help, but he’s not spectacular and creative in the way he grinds down his opponents. Djokovic is Boycott to Kyrgios’ Gilchrist.Then we come down to sportsmanship. I’m more old school when it comes to how tennis players behave. I prefer Rafter and Federer to Hewitt and McEnroe. A few years back, I went off Kyrgios for that reason. But I must say that I have few problems with how he’s behaved this tournament. I base much of that opinion on my assumption about his motivation for his outbursts. I assume his outbursts are not confected with a view to putting off his opponent and “working the ref”. He seems to react with genuine emotion. By contrast, I think McEnroe never really lost his temper. He just acted like he did. And his temper tantrums tended to coincide with times when he needed to change momentum.Many of Kyrgios’ celebrated outbursts have been self-destructive. He has often given away matches as a result of losing concentration and has even tanked in anger. If I were his opponent, I’d love to see him engaging in unproductive arguments with the chair umpire or spectators. Unlike in McEnroe’s day, there’s not even much benefit in intimidating the chair umpire as video reviews mean the opponent can erase umpiring mistakes.His outbursts don’t have the visceral edge employed by other players behaving at their worst. Hewitt insinuated a black umpire favoured James Blake because he’s black and Serena threatened to shove a ball down a lineswoman’s throat. McEnroe’s “bald eagle” taunts were nothing more than schoolyard bullying. Compared to those efforts, Kyrgios’ slams have been pretty tame. If I’d been the lineswoman who Kyrgios branded a snitch, I would have had trouble keeping a straight face. It was almost comedic. Yes, he also attacked her by questioning the eyesight of 90 year old linespeople and that’s ageist and a sweeping generalisation but it’s hardly outrageous. His opponent in that opening round, Paul Jubb, is British and the home crowd tried to put Kyrgios off, allegedly using racist taunts. He lashed the crowd and that threw Jubb off his game but I doubt that was Kyrgios’ intention. Then you come to how he treats other players. His last 2 opponents have behaved impeccably and Kyrgios has not made any attempt to unsettle them by attacking them. On the other hand, Tsitsipas lit the fuse by whacking a spare ball into the crowd, leading Kyrgios to demand he be defaulted. He had a point - imagine what would have happened if it had been Kyrgios who behaved in that fashion. Then Tsitsipas tried to whack balls at Kyrgios. The moral of the story is that Kyrgios won’t go after a player who respects the rules and the courtesies of the game, but he won’t hesitate to challenge those who do. Let’s not forget that Tsitsipas isn’t without blemish when it comes to gamesmanship either. Andy Murray lashed him repeatedly in one match where Tsitsipas repeatedly used toilet breaks and medical timeouts to break Murray’s momentum. One of the toilet breaks was 8 minutes long. Murray openly accused Tsitsipas of being a cheat and demanded the chair umpire take action.That makes the forthcoming match against Rafa explosive, if Rafa doesn’t default. Rafa tests the rules by taking every second of the time allowed to serve if not more. This is the polar opposite of Kyrgios. Time limits were introduced because of Djokovic and Nadal, amongst others, but chair umpires seem to be unwilling to crack down on them. That will probably also happen when Kyrgios is serving as Kyrgios serves as soon as he walks to the baseline. The receiver is expected to play to the pace of the server but Nadal needs to go through his routine of picking at his clothes and racquet and it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll demand Kyrgios give him time to do that before he serves. It’s easy to predict that Kyrgios will go off at both Nadal and the chair umpire. And Kyrgios is like a dog with a bone - he won’t let up. This then ticks off Nadal who reacts badly to what he regards as disrespect from other players. There was an incredible spectacle in one of Nadal’s earlier matches when he summoned his opponent to the net to tell him off for grunting and various other sins when his opponent had momentum behind him (and it wasn’t lost on most that Nadal is probably the gruntiest player on the male tour). He managed to wrest the momentum and win the game and apologised for his behaviour at the post-match presser. It’s a match made in hell.