Nick Kyrgios may be shaping up to be the bad boy of Australian tennis but the fiery 20-year-old is not concerned about how he is being perceived.
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The young Aussie, who faces Argentina’s Juan Monaco on Wednesday on Court 18, is one of the emerging characters on tour but does not always say or do the right thing.
Bringing a lot of swagger to the tennis court, Kyrgios, who exploded onto the scene when he beat Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon fourth round last season, often loses it on the court and was heard saying “dirty scum” during his opening match on Monday following an argument with umpire Mohamed Lahyani.
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Kyrgios explained the words were not directed towards anyone but himself but some can be forgiven for finding some of his behaviour inappropriate at times.
Asked how he felt about being branded a “bad boy” Kyrgios said: “I don’t know what to answer. I don’t know. I play the sport the way I play it. I’m not going to change…
“I think the sport needs characters. I feel like it’s good when you see someone that’s raw and just plays the game the way they play it, doesn’t really worry about other stuff when they’re out there.”
He added that it wouldn’t bother him one bit if he was slapped with a fine for audible obscenity during that match.
In the press room, Kyrgios is often funny or irritable and sometimes both at once.
“Why are you so caught up about the question?” he said the other day when quizzed about his cursing on court.
An avid basketball fan, Kyrgios used to play the game when he was younger before choosing tennis full-time. He spends hours watching it on TV and finds it entertaining in many aspects – aspects that are not really present in tennis.
“I just love basketball as a sport. I think it’s exciting. It’s always exciting. Always something happening. There were parts of today where it was really quiet in my match,” he said after his first round win.
“I just enjoy the whole aspect of the team environment. I’m wearing a shooting sleeve on my left arm for some reason this week. I don’t really know why.”
Kyrgios’ game seems tailored for grass, with his booming serve and powerful forehand, but he says it’s actually not his favourite surface.
He’s playing just his second Wimbledon main draw but despite having little experience at this level, he already has two grand slam quarter-final appearances under his belt.
“This time around, I felt I experienced some of these things before,” said the No 26 seed. “Being two sets to love down at Wimbledon, coming back, I’ve done that. Winning a tight first round last year, I’ve done that. Beating the No1 player in the world on Centre Court, I’ve done that.
“I just feel I am maybe more comfortable this time around. Maybe not so experienced, but I feel I’m aware of my surroundings. I’m in the championship locker room as well. That’s new to me. It’s only the start of my career. I’m still learning every time I play a grand slam.”
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