Nick Kyrgios and Tennis Excellence

I am not a huge fan of The Color of Money as it is nowhere near as good as The Hustler.  Still, the film has a lot of good moments.  I especially like Eddie Felson’s line “pool excellence is not about excellent pool.”  Nick Kyrgios still lacks tennis excellence.  I am not sure how doggedly he is pursuing it.

Perhaps attaining tennis excellence is frustratingly close but ethereal, or Kyrgios might not really care to find such excellence.  Kyrgios has some technical issues with his game.  His movement is not smooth in the sense of generating predictable contact points on his strokes.  His movement can be electric, but it is not disciplined toward consistent ball striking.  He makes amazing shots at times.  However, as a friend of mine tells junior players, great shots win points but good shots win matches.  Kyrgios has easy power and a penchant for breathtaking play.  He also does some weird stuff on the court that can’t be said to be geared toward winning a giving match.

This takes talent, but is this tennis? Does Nick use stuff like this to dig in deeper to a match as he did vs. Rafa at Wimbledon or is it just a sideshow? 

Need vs. Want

I talked to my former tennis coach who was also a former college track and field athlete.  He made an excellent point once that I heard in a different format from Jon Wertheim in 2009.  My former coach said, “If you give me a room full of people who want to be good at tennis and a room of people who need to be good at tennis, I can tell you in the long run who will be better.”  Jon Wertheim said that a number of top 20 players enjoy their lives with good money, a nice car, seeing the world, and don’t necessarily see a big gain if they were to push really hard for more.

I think Kyrgios can easily be seen as a player who might just enjoy the wealth and notoriety that tennis can provide him.  If he makes a self-possessed decision to say that is what he wants, great.  However, Kyrgios seems to realize A. he could be a champion B. he could have a long comfortable career as a top 20 player or C. he could get out of tennis completely.  He doesn’t seem to know which of the 3 will make him happy though.  The sad part of watching his bouts of low effort stretches in matches is that he seems to be engaging in public acts of rebellion against himself. The musical Pippin contains the line “He ran from himself, now that’s mighty far to run.”

Kyrgios always had close matches versus Roger Federer until they played a really big match.  Then the player who seems to need tennis success soundly beat a player who I am not sure even wants to have tennis success.


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