LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Two weeks after receiving a record six-figure fine for his latest on-court meltdown, Nick Kyrgios returns to the US Open with questions swirling over whether the mercurial Australian will ever mature in time to fulfill his vast potential.
Kyrgios, the 28th seed who will play American Steve Johnson in the first round tomorrow, arrives in New York on the back of the Cincinnati Masters where he again made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
He was fined $113,000 after verbally abusing chair umpire Fergus Murphy and smashing two rackets.
The antics came just two weeks after he had tamed his wild ways to win the Citi Open for his sixth career title.
“I’ve just been working really hard, on and off the court, to try and be better as a person and as a tennis player,” he said at the time.
The good behaviour on display that week did not last long, leaving pundits and former players wondering whether the 24-year-old will ever embrace the change necessary to take his game to the next level.
“He has moments where he puts it together but even those moments are fraught with seconds or minutes of something happening that can completely set him off,” Jimmy Arias, the director of tennis at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, told Reuters in an interview.
“I’m not Australian and it drives me crazy because you see how good he is. He would be a guy who could be number one in the world if he had anything upstairs.
“Even if he had half of (Rafa) Nadal’s fight he would be top four in the world.”
While prone to losing to modest opponents, Kyrgios often produces his best tennis when up against one of the ‘Big Three’ of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Nadal.
He has a combined 6-9 head-to-head record against them – 2-0 against Djokovic, 3-4 against Nadal and 1-5 against Federer.
“He can compete hard against (the Big Three) because there’s no blow to his ego to lose,” said Arias.
“But if he is playing someone ranked a little lower, and he’s obviously trying his hardest and he’s losing or he possibly could lose, then he just goes in the tank and he’s got that excuse for his ego.
“He’s created a defense mechanism in his brain that he has to change and that’s going to take work and I’m not too sure he’s willing to do that work.”