Tennis legend Mats Wilander says there’s no limit to Nick Kyrgios’ potential and he can win Wimbledon
NICK Kyrgios is poised to shock the tennis world and win Wimbledon this year, according to former World No.1 Mats Wilander.
In a stunning assessment of the young Australian, Wilander told the Tennis Podcast Kyrgios “might be the greatest player of all time once his career is over” and rated him a better chance of winning the 2015 Wimbledon title than world No.4 and current French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
“Nick Kyrgios might win this year’s Wimbledon. In my eyes, he has a really good chance of going very far and he can definitely do some damage,” Swede Wilander said ahead of Kyrgios’ fourth round clash with Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Monday night.
“No one knows how well he can play. You cannot say Nick Kyrgios is not going to win this year’s Wimbledon because every time he has had to, he has stepped it up. He’s 19. There is no level, no height to what he can jump. He just looks at the opponent on the other side and says, ‘OK, I’ve got to win this match,’ and he figures out a way to do it.”
Wilander, a seven-time grand slam winner, said Kyrgios had the showmanship to turn the Wimbledon crowd against the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
“You have no idea,” Wilander said.
“Nick Kyrgios might be the greatest player of all time once his career is over. He has the weapons, he’s got the belief. What is Roger Federer and these guys going to do when he starts his circus on the court and the whole crowd just turns against them and they go for Nick Kyrgios and suddenly he has 15,000 people at the Wimbledon centre court - maybe the player box of the other player is cheering for them, that’s it, unless it’s Andy Murray.
“But if it’s Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, he’s going to be able to turn everybody. Be very careful of writing him off.”
Kyrgios is a $1.76 favourite to defeat Richard Gasquet and advance to the quarter final, but remains a $26.00 outsider to lift the trophy.
Wilander, however, believes there is an “unknown limit of how well Nick Kyrgios can play” and believes the 20-year-old’s game is ideally suited to grass.
“I think Nick Kyrgios has a grasscourt game,” Wilander said.
“He made the quarterfinals here, he made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. But he’s not going to be happy with another quarterfinals, I can tell you. He needs to get to at least a semi final before he is even starting to smile about his tennis.
“I would think he would be really, really disappointed - in fact I think he would the most disappointed player to leave Wimbledon without winning Wimbledon - because he’s 19 and he’s fearless. He has the game. He’s proven it. He’s even beaten Federer on clay.
“So there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be feeling as confident about winning. The only reason is he hasn’t won, so he doesn’t know what that feeling is. I wasn’t very scared when I won at 17, 18 years old. Boris Becker wasn’t, either. When Boris Becker won as a 17 year old, we had some serious players - John McEnroe was playing great, Ivan Lendl was playing great, Stefan Edberg was already playing great, I was playing great.
“And then Becker comes in and blows everyone away with tennis that we had never seen. Nick Kyrgios has that possibility, I really believe that.”
Kyrgios’ brilliant tennis and colourful antics continue to capture the attention of the international tennis media.
Jim White, writing in the UK Telegraph, was also glowing in his assessment of Kyrgios, noting “look beyond the giant headphones, the silly basketball sleeve, the Premier League-style hieroglyphics carved into his coiffure and this boy can play”.
“...the thing about Kyrgios that demands attention is that he has the game to back up his ego-driven behavioural tics,” White wrote. “This is a player so good, Mats Wilander reckons him the one with the best chance outside the big three of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray of landing the title this year. Watching him in action, his improvised groundstrokes as compelling as his serve is powerful, is to be constantly entertained.
The man may be, at times, irritatingly childish – his prickly, thin-skinned demeanour in press conferences graceless, his attitude to the umpires defining the limits of rudeness – but his tennis this past week has been never less than magnificent.”
Kevin Mitchell, writing in the Guardian, believes Kyrgios is a deeper, more sensitive character than his devil-may-care attitude betrays.
“Those craving ‘a character’, someone to market, to save tennis from descending into post-Federer-Murray-Nadal-Djokovic boredom, can’t get enough of his freewheeling antics and exuberant tennis,” Mitchell wrote. “Others – older and stuffier in his youthful reckoning, probably – who remember the dignity that Rod Laver and his generation brought to the game think he is, well, see above.
“I would like to have a bit each-way on him coming through this – but maybe not for a year or two. He’s still struggling with his celebrity, whatever he might think to the contrary, in his laid-back, knowing way.”
The Independent ran on story on Kyrgios’ fans smearing vegemite and nutella on their faces to show support amid his Wimbledon run.
“By reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon, in which he will play Richard Gasquet on Monday, the Australian is beginning to back up his sometimes arrogant attitude with the skill to warrant it,” Simon Rice wrote.
“But just as the 20-year-old wins over some of the haters and begins to be taken more seriously, some of his supporters appear to have lost the plot.”
Kyrgios noted the bizarre trend and thanked his supporters on social media.
Kyrgios’ father, meanwhile, has hit the headlines in the UK for the wrong reasons.
According to the Daily Mail’s Charles Sale, “Giorgos Kyrgios ... has not endeared himself to dressing-room officials by demanding entry despite lacking the right passes and is reported to be on a final warning.”
“The showdown reached its height when Kyrgios Snr, who has been helping at training, was furious at being denied entry after he went to find some bottles of water,” Sale wrote. “He thrust his palm through a gap in the door close to the face of a dressing-room attendant to demonstrate he wanted five bottles and then complained they were not cold enough.”