Kyrgios Insists He Only Has Time For Hewitt Among Australian Men’s Tennis Greats

The Wimbledon finalist believes the rest of having a 'sick obsession with tearing me down'
10:27, 09 Jul 2022

Nick Kyrgios insists he only has time for Lleyton Hewitt among the Australian men’s tennis greats – accusing the rest of having a “sick obsession with tearing me down”. 

The controversial and explosive 27-year-old has made it to his first grand slam final at Wimbledon after stringing together his best run of wins at one of the sport’s majors. 

Unseeded world No40 Kyrgios, who has one of the longest rap sheets in tennis for swearing, abuse of officials and spectators and occasionally not trying, has already been fined twice at this year’s Championships over a spitting incident against Paul Jubb, and then turning the air blue in the already infamous ill-tempered third-round win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

But tennis has also finally got to see what Krygios - who obviously got a huge helping hand with Rafa Nadal’s withdrawal with injury from their semi-final - is truly capable of when he allies some grit, determination and focus to his unquestioned dazzling array of skills and abilities with a racket.

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The result is one of the most eagerly awaited and anticipated men’s finals for years as he goes up against Novak Djokovic – the Serb going for a seventh Wimbledon title that would tie Pete Sampras, and a fourth in a row having not lost at the event since 2017, or on Centre Court since 2013. 

However, apart from the 2002 champion and Australia Davis Cup captain Hewitt, who has made huge efforts to understand a player not to everyone’s taste, Kyrgios feels no pride at following in the footsteps of national icons such as Pat Cash, the 1987 champion, and former finalist Mark Philippoussis. 

Cash said of Kyrgios this year after the Tsistsipas match: “He’s brought tennis to the lowest level I can see as far as gamesmanship, cheating, manipulation, abuse, aggressive behaviour to umpires, to linesmen. He was lucky to even get through the first set, he should have been defaulted in the first set. Something’s got to be done about it – it’s just an absolute circus. Is it entertaining? Yeah, possibly. It’s gone to the absolute limit now.” 

And Philippoussis has said in the past: “People go on about how talented Nick is but he’s terrified to show that he’s trying because if he loses then it’s because he wasn’t good enough.Whenever he loses, everyone goes on Instagram and says: ‘Dude, if you only tried you’d be that good.’ That’s a complete b*llshit cop out.” 

But Kyrgios said ahead of the final: “I mean, look, as for the greats of Australian tennis, they haven't always been the nicest to me personally. They haven't always been supportive. They haven't been supportive these two weeks. So it's hard for me to kind of read things that they say about me. 

“For instance, when I saw Ash Barty in the final of Australia, I was nothing but happy. I would never say a bad word about an Australian making a final. Like that's just me. 

“And the kind of only great that's ever been supportive of me the whole time has been Lleyton Hewitt. Like he knows. He's our Davis Cup captain, and he kind of knows that I kind of do my own thing. I'm definitely the outcast of the Australian players.

Lleyton Hewitt wins Wimbledon in 2002
Lleyton Hewitt wins Wimbledon in 2002

“He knows to kind of keep his distance and just let me do me. He just sends me a message here or there, Keep going. That's literally it. Just, Well done. Keep going. 

“It's pretty sad because I don't get any support from any of the other Australian tennis players, the male side. Not the players, but like the past greats. It's weird they just have like a sick obsession with tearing me down for some reason. 

“I just don't know whether they don't like me or they're, like, afraid. I don't know. I don't know what it is. But it sucks, because if it was roles reversed, if I saw De Minaur in a final, or if I saw Jordan Thompson or Thanasi Kokkinakkis, I'd be pumped. I'd be stoked. I'd be having a pint watching going nuts. So a shout-out to Lleyton, I guess. I had a hit with him during this tournament.” 

One newspaper headline screamed that bad-boy Kyrgios reaching the final on Sunday is ‘Wimbledon’s worst nightmare’. But the player with a long love-hate relationship with his own sport is getting more used to that tag, and hopes in his own way he can inspire those that do not always conform. 

He added: “Look, it's hard. It's something I have to deal with. Like, that's just the world we live in. Like, I'm in a Wimbledon final. I know deep down everything I've gone through and I've worked for. I just try to enjoy the ride. If that's what they want to write…I can only control what I do. 

“I'm just going to go out there and enjoy the moment. Since I was born, only eight people have ever won this title. 

“I don't know if my relationship with tennis is ever going to change. There's definitely times where I hate this sport, but there are times where I think I'm one of the most competitive people I've ever met. I love competing. I just love going up against someone, and I love just the winning and losing aspect of sport in general. So I don't know if that will ever change. 

“The one thing for sure, whether I win or lose on Sunday, I'm going to be happy. It's such a great achievement that I thought I'd never be a part of. Especially at 27, I feel this is, like, for me, I thought it was the later stages of my career. But I just never thought it would be right here. 

“I grew up in Canberra, the courts I trained on were horrible, and now I'm in the Wimbledon final. I think it's honestly an inspiration for any sort of kid who's kind of been outcasted or just been surrounded by negative headlines or negative just clouds or trying to be, like, just being brought down from a lot of different angles. It's still possible to achieve something quite special if you just believe in yourself.” 

Kyrgios is 3/1 to beat Djokovic with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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