If you’re not a big fan of the volatile Aussie Nick Kyrgios, but you’re keeping an open mind and you’re willing to see another side to him beyond some of his less-endearing on-court moments, here’s a suggestion:
Watch him play doubles.
The 21-year-old is a different guy on the doubles court. He’s much more relaxed, he smiles a whole lot more, and perhaps he lets more of his real personality shine through. He also takes it very seriously.
Kyrgios and Jack Sock are into the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open doubles after a pair of straight-set wins against two very accomplished doubles tandems. They defeated Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in the first round, and upset No. 5 seeds Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram 6-4, 6-4 Tuesday.
These two, good mates, have often tried in the past to team up on the doubles court. For a few years, Sock and Canadian Vasek Pospisil were a steady duo (they won Wimbledon in 2014 in their first tournament together).
After that, one circumstance after another prevented it. Only once has it happened. But they had to retire after the first set of their second-round match in Toronto last summer against Pospisil and Daniel Nestor.
But they practice together often – to the reported mild dismay of Australian Open captain and Kyrgios advisor Lleyton Hewitt.
Hewitt, as serious as a heart attack during practice when he played, thinks they don’t work hard enough because they joke around too much.
He’s not totally wrong. Check out this footage of the pair entertaining the crowd thoroughly at the Rogers Cup in Montreal in 2015.
The thing about these two is that the kids LOVE them. And that’s the demographic that will make the game grow during the next era, the one without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Teenaged boys follow them around as though they’re a pair of pied pipers. In the video above, all the boys from Tennis Canada’s high-performance junior program were on hand and watched most of the practice. Félix Auger-Aliassime (then 14, in the red shirt on the left) is probably the best 16-year-old in the world right now. He won the boys’ title at the US Open last summer.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 10, 2017
Kyrgios plans to play doubles at the French Open with fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson. He also hopes to play mixed doubles with his girlfriend, Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia.
Here he is at Wimbledon playing mixed with Madison Keys.
And here he is playing mixed with Genie Bouchard at the US Open last summer. It was just a couple of hours after that match that Bouchard had her fall in the women’s locker room.
Different guy, huh?
— Mutua Madrid Open (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 10, 2017
Next up for Sock and Kyrgios are either No. 4 seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo or the alternate American pair of Brian Baker and Nick Monroe.