Posts Tagged 'kyrgios'

US Open 2015: First week wrap-up

The end of the first week of the last Grand Slam is drawing closer and we are no clearer to finding out as to who will emerge as the men’s champion. Djokovic and Federer have proven themselves to be genuine title contenders with flawless victories, while others like Andy Murray have had to fight a little harder. As always there has been drama and sad goodbyes but that is part of the spirit of the game. No individual is bigger than the game of tennis.

1. Mardy Fish bids farewell

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Mardy Fish has played his final professional match at the US Open.

Along with the likes of Andy Roddick and James Blake, Fish was part of a new wave of American tennis players who came to prominence in the early 2000s. He reached three Grand Slam quarter-finals, reached a high of No. 7 in the world and made four ATP World Tour 1000 finals appearances. An undisclosed illness struck the man from Minnesota (which was later revealed as an anxiety disorder) at the peak of his powers and has riddled him ever since. But he refused to bow out, soldiering on before announcing his retirement at the end of the US Open this year. He lost in the second round in five sets to another veteran, Feliciano Lopez.

2. The heat

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Jack Sock has been one of numerous casualties to the humidity.

So far the humidity seems to have affected the men more than the women. 13 retirements on the men’s side have taken place prompting questions as to whether the heat rule that is applied to the women’s side should be allowed for men as well (a 10 minute break at the end of the second set when the temperature reached a certain point). Some would argue against such a rule, saying that such a player should be in top physical shape when playing in such an important tournament. They should of conditioned themselves beforehand. Most would train their bodies to tolerate such a temperature for e.g. Novak Djokovic struggled early in his career but nowadays it doesn’t seem to bother him.

3. Federer’s sneak attack

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This has been a shot widely discussed…

This has been a shot that only been added to Federer’s arsenal and it has been instrumental in his latest success. The sneak attack as most would call it, involves returning a second serve on a half volley in the hope of throwing off an opponent. It paid dividends in his recent victories against Murray and Djokovic and we are seeing it on show again at the Open. The 34 year-old has demonstrated that it’s not too late to reinvent yourself and consistently resorted to methods to give himself an advantage. His coach Stefan Edberg has been of the initiators, encouraging the Swiss to serve and volley and be more aggressive.

4. Nadal’s shock exit

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For the first time in 10 years, Nadal will not have a major trophy to his name.

Until today, Rafael Nadal has never lost a five set match after going two sets to love up. His record stood at an imperious 151-0. A fourth round place seemed likely for Nadal mid way through the third set until his opponent, Fabio Fognini started clubbing winners (70 to 30 in his favour). The momentum quickly shifted toward the Italian and he never looked back. Early exits have become a commonality for the Spaniard, especially at Wimbledon but in the past he has always managed to find solace in the Parisian clay. The Mallorcan turns 30 next year and time may be running out for him to add to his 14 Slam victories. Is his physically demanding game finally taking a toll on him?

5. Nick Kyrgios

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Kyrgios has had a controversial 2015.

The name says it all. Even though the Australian lost in the first round of the US Open, he is still making news headlines for all the wrong reasons. Cricket legend Shane Warne penned a letter on Facebook, pleading for Kyrgios to change his attitude and not waste his talent. 12 time Grand Slam winner Roy Emerson called on the 20 year-old to change his ways or take a break from the game. Couldn’t of chosen a better mixed doubles player in Eugenie Bouchard, a Canadian who has been criticized for her lack of sportsmanship (snubbed a handshake with a Fed Cup opponent). Many observers noticed the “sexual tension” between the two in their first match together with some comparing it to an episode of the Bachelor.

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The controversy surrounding Nick Kyrgios

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To put it simply, it’s hasn’t been a good week to be an Australian tennis player. And to make things even worse, reports have been circulating this afternoon that Kokkinakis, one of the innocent parties dragged into the Nick Kyrgios controversy, has been involved in a post match stoush with Ryan Harrison, which started off with the Australian taking exception to a few overrules from the umpire which escalated when the American appeared to reference the controversy which has gripped world headlines.

Kyrgios has already been fined heavily by the ATP and apologized personally and publicly. However, calls have grown louder for a hefty sanction to be imposed on the 20 year-old. These calls are yet to be answered by the governing body but I strongly believe there will be stronger penalties against the dual Grand Slam quarter-finalist. A few years back, another Australian by the name of Brydan Klein was fined exactly the same amount and suspended by the ATP for 6 months for racially abusing an opponent.

Christos Kyrgios, brother of Nick Kyrgios inflamed further tensions between his family and Wawrinka by suggesting that the Swiss would have withdrawn from the next few tournaments if he had been there with his brother in the locker room. In subsequent radio interviews (one which initially saw him kicked off after suggesting Vekic loved the “Kokk”) he persistently defended his brother’s actions by referencing a previous incident between the two players. Clearly he wasn’t going to win the debate by comparing apples and oranges and it just goes to show how immature he is.

The media coverage surrounding the saga has been immense and rightly so because these kind of comments have no place in society.  Innocent parties have been named and defamed and these are things that they’ll have to carry for the rest of their career. Kyrgios has won himself a new legion of critics who are itching to give him a bad name for every unorthodox move he makes. One man who has been quick to defend the Greek Australian is Wally Masur, Australia’s Davis Cup captain. Australia have reached the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time in 10 years and any dent in their armory would be fatal against the team expected to be led by Andy Murray.

But by suggesting that Kyrgios would still be in the mix for Davis Cup selection in September drew the ire of Ray Warren, a respected Rugby League commentator who said that winning Davis Cup was more seemingly important than recognizing misogyny and working towards its eradication. And he is absolutely correct to think that way. Besides it seems more likely than not that the Australian will face further penalties and may not be available for the tie come September. To put the record straight, this has not been a good month for Australian sport, with the Ashes lost and barbs thrown but we can take some pride with the Australian Diamonds netball team who won their third-straight Netball World Cup.

Bold gamble pays off for Australia in Davis Cup

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For the first time since 1939, Australia has come back from a 2-0 deficit to record a stunning victory over Kazakhstan in the Davis Cup quarter-finals. Hewitt, now ranked 279 in the world wasn’t initially slated to take part in the singles, but when things seemed dire, Wally Masur had no choice but to turn to the aging veteran. And he repaid his faith with a straight sets victory over Nedovyesov. It was no doubt a risky decision to substitute Hewitt, someone who had only won one match on tour this year. Sam Groth’s appearance was expected, having reached a career high No. 66 this year following a fruitful grass court season.

Luckily for Masur, the move paid off and Australia is through to the semi-finals for the first time since 2006. The real losers here are the “Special Ks” who were initially entrusted with singles duty but had that quickly taken away from them with poor attitude and a failure to adapt to the quicker grass courts. Great Britain now looms as their next opponent who of course has current World No. 3 Andy Murray. There is no doubt in my mind that that tie to be played in September is certainly winnable for Australia with James Ward and their doubles combination as their weak link.

But first, Tennis Australia must reconcile with Bernard Tomic and fast. His absence was felt in this tie, and it wouldn’t have gone down to the wire if he wasn’t banned. His Davis Cup record speaks for itself, with 14 wins and just two losses. Nick Kyrgios is also a concern, with controversy plaguing him and mentally he doesn’t seem there. His match against Nedovyesov was below par and his downfall was mainly because he couldn’t find the breakthrough at the latter moments of each set. Kokkinakis endured a similar experience, unable to find his rhythm and range against an experienced player in Kukushkin.

Fortunately for Hewitt and Australia, life goes on as they seek a first Davis Cup title since 2003.

Nick Kyrgios: A polarizing figure

Nick Kyrgios has played 50 tennis matches in his professional career, and has already made Grand Slam quarter-finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Along with Bernard Tomic, he is widely considered to be Australia’s next tennis hope. At 6ft 4 in, he is flamboyant, employs an aggressive style of tennis and is an avid social media user. At the age of 20, he has already bested two the greatest players of the 21st century, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Some love him, some loathe him. Many spectators have longed for characters and personalities and Kyrgios definitely fits that bill.

His performance at this year’s Championships were good but not spectacular. After beating Raonic in the third round, I’m sure he would be disappointed not to have gone on further. Unfortunately for the Australian, it was his on court and off court antics that caught the headlines.

Rd 1: Kyrgios def. Schwartzman

Kyrgios has it easy enough, winning in straight sets but not without controversy. Escaped sanctions for yelling “dirty scum” later clarifying that it was directed at himself. Also threatened to stop playing after it was discovered a shot that was initially called out was in fact in.

Rd 2: Kyrgios def. Monaco

The 20 year-old shines with his exuberant shot making to dismiss former World No. 10 Juan Monaco in straight sets. Gets reported by a lines person for swearing, retaliates with sarcasm and questions the central umpire as to whether “he felt strong up there” after giving him the cold shoulder.

Rd 3: Kyrgios def. Raonic

Receives a code violation for bouncing a racquet, and boy wasn’t he lucky that a spectator caught that otherwise that would of been an automatic disqualification. And how could we forget, the Wimbledon headband. After being warned it was against the rules, he turned it inside out.

In the middle of all this, he even managed to have a run in with Wimbledon officials off court for scaling a fence in order to watch Hewitt/Kokkinakis in the doubles. But that’s not all, in his next round against Richard Gasquet, Kyrgios took even a darker turn.

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There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he didn’t try during that game. Even though he attempted to press his case that he did “move”, he was already looking to the other side of his end of the court by the time that serve had come down. Not something you want to see in a professional sport. Tanking is probably not the right word in this case but more of frustration. Kyrgios’ efforts in the third and fourth sets were admirable, and the fact that he held two set points in the final set indicates that the ability is there.

But that’s not all, even after the tournament, the Australian was still making headlines. This time he became entangled in the Tomic family feud with Tennis Australia by siding with his friend and blasting Rafter’s mantra of opportunity not entitlement. He even drew the ire of one of Australia’s most respected Olympians, Dawn Fraser even though she probably went too far with her comments. On a more positive note, what Rod Laver said afterwards is something that been mentioned by so many others but so true. At end of the day, you are judged by the matches that you win not the way that you conduct yourself. Nick Kyrgios, I hope you’re listening before its too late.