Sport

Nick Kyrgios Holds His Temper, and Australia Holds Its Breath

The general look among the faces in the overwhelmingly Australian crowd became one of stricken, nervous worry. They want to believe in Kyrgios the way they believe in the women’s top seed, another of their own, Ashleigh Barty. The difference is they can count on Barty. They know what to expect: unwavering effort, quiet humility. They don’t know what they’ll get with Kyrgios. They had seen him self destruct plenty of times before.

“He’s on the edge now, of something not good happening,” said one of the commentators on Australian TV. The commentator was John McEnroe, who of course is as expert as any at diagnosing the fraying emotions of a player on the verge of losing control.

Sure enough, the wheels wobbled all the way off. Simon rose up and snatched the third set. What seemed like a sure thing was now a fight.

The match marched forward, and as the games went on in the fourth set, Kyrgios’s mood only got worse. He would describe himself after the match as being close to going to entering a “dark place.”

But something interesting happened along the way. Watching closely, you could see him change. He stopped looking up at the stands, put an end to the salty barbs. His sloping posture straightened. His face grew focused, serious, intent. He began playing with just enough control to be dangerous again.

He dug deep, centered himself, and found his footing.

Soon enough he edged ahead, the front-runner once more, just in time.

Match point.

The crowd roared, insisting he end it. He tossed the ball toward the pitch-dark sky, struck it with as much force and clarity as any ball he had struck all night.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/sports/tennis/nick-kyrgios-australian-open.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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