‘Every time I watch Nick and he pulls some stunt, I think: Was I that bad?’ - John McEnroe on Kyrgios (2022)

It’s the same every year. Over just as you are beginning to fall in love with it. This is Wimbledon’s special power – to creep up on you every day, teasing itself momentarily into your routine before, just as you are starting to let it in, it wraps itself up for another year.

This time round this familiar, small loss is a touch sharper. What will we all do without the drama? In the men’s losing finalist, Nick Kyrgios, 2022 had that component missing from so many of the recent years it has meandered along, speaking to itself; a character so volatile, so at odds with what Wimbledon understands of Wimbledon, so talented and brattish and irrational and unknowable, that the world outside leans in to watch it all too. And what sport, honestly, doesn’t love it when everyone does that.

[Nick Kyrgios charged with assaulting ex-girlfriend in Australia]

Kyrgios’s incredibly colourful tournament ended in a final of occasionally supernatural tennis, in which he repeatedly shouted borderline abuse at his closest loved ones. It has been highly controversial from inside, and highly watchable from out. For all the responses there have been thrown around, though, it was only really worth being seen through one man’s eyes. A man who was present in an echo of each of the outbursts, as if it were a modernised nod. One man who knows, and still lives with, what it’s really like to be that guy. John McEnroe. Now a part of the established furniture on the BBC coverage, even for him the scenes played out as a mirror to a time he is inevitably tied to. “Every time I watch Nick and he pulls some stunt, I think: ‘Did I do that? Was I that bad?’ It definitely brings back those types of memories and feelings,” he says after, infamous images of the early 80′s being played back in the mind’s eye.

McEnroe, the story goes, a product of a tense, chaotic New York, was spat into a conservative, rigid Wimbledon as an 18-year old prodigy in 1977 (the year of punk, of course) and was received as a sort of disruptor from another planet. He voiced “it’s not fair” globally for a teenage generation from the television set from that point on. He was saying it at umpires. They were saying it at their parents. He was right, they decided, it wasn’t fair. That ball was on the line. The parents often hated him, a vision of a spoilt youth flexing its muscles and asking for even more. Each recollection you hear on McEnroe from that time, whichever side you sit on, will be recounted as though he has been preserved in the memory in multi-colour, red and blue headbanded, against a monochrome Wimbledon – almost like he belonged in another era entirely.

(Video) John McEnroe’s epic Wimbledon meltdown: ‘You cannot be serious!’ | ESPN Archives

“I think he’s just trying to deal with his nerves and that fear of failure that we all have,” McEnroe unpacks, of Kyrgios. “His way of dealing with it is obviously different than others. What happens unfortunately, when you’re wound up and freaking out, is you take it out on someone closest to you. The irony of it is he’s taking it out on the people that love him the most in the players’ box. So, that’s tough to watch.”

[Governing bodies have a duty to lay out guidelines when stars make headlines for the wrong reasons]

McEnroe, of course, was more inclined to take it out on himself and the opponent and line judges and any chairs or objects in his general vicinity than loved ones on the court. He was hoping for more loved ones. “For me, I didn’t want to be booed, I wanted people to be cheering me. It did make me remember though, once my dad was in the crowd, clapping and mouthing: ‘You can do it son, you can do it’.

(Video) Nick Kyrgios Doesn't Tell Ben Stiller How To Act 🥶

“I remember going: ‘F*ck you, who the hell are you sitting on your ass, telling me what to do’, under my breath. He came up to me straight after the match and said ‘did you say f*ck you to me?’” McEnroe had to think on his feet. “I said ‘no, no there was some jerk above you’. It wasn’t like I was screaming like Nick. But it was uncalled for, let’s just say that.”

“For the most part, when I’d lose it, I was able to get my concentration back pretty quickly. That’s what actually bothered players. With Nick, it’s hard to tell right now,” he says. “Sometimes it doesn’t look like he’s trying. You just don’t know what you’re getting, which sort of what makes it fun to watch, in a train wreck kind of way. It’s like watching a car crash.” He swerves direction, making sure to show his simultaneous awe, “I would have never had the balls to try the between the legs shots and all the other crazy stuff that he does. I was doing the commentary watching him and I was literally laughing. I was saying: ‘I can’t believe he’s trying this in a Wimbledon final’. It’s amazing. It was a very high level of tennis. He’s showed what he’s capable of and I hope he keeps committing to it.”

The first time I met John McEnroe was in early 2020. Director Barney Douglas was embarking on a film about his life and asked me if I’d be interested in doing the score. “I would love to,” I told him. Before we started though, Barney explained, the music was important to John, and he wanted to meet the person who was – supposedly – making it. The pandemic had stalled any designs to meet up in person, so – like everything else – it had to be on Zoom. Him in New York – where he would eventually be late night wandering the deserted streets for the filming – me in south-east London.

‘Every time I watch Nick and he pulls some stunt, I think: Was I that bad?’ - John McEnroe on Kyrgios (1)

There he was suddenly, the man of a million projections, decades on from those duels to which he is still tied, on the screen in my flat, the reception slightly delayed and distorted. He was disarmingly softly spoken, with a scepticism – gentle, but detectable even from the cackling screen. I showed him my guitar (on request). He showed me his. His was far, far nicer. He carried Jeff Buckley’s guitar at the infamous London Garage show. There were more stories, laced with the names of close encounters with pretty much all the great rock stars from recent decades. The other side, he began to search for what he imagined the music to his life should be like. Struggling to find the exact words, his hands fixed in an anxious air guitar gesture, he eventually gave up, for a second showing the glimpse of frustration he would have once had at an unfavourable decision, landing on: ‘”Just don’t make it sound like Titanic, OK?”. Got it, I said. Not like Titanic.

(Video) John McEnroe Is Disqualified | Australian Open 1990

Two years later, minutes walk from Centre Court at Wimbledon in the aftermath of the tournament, I’ve just watched him sing It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by REM at an after party he is putting on for charity. I’ve just joined him on stage where he has encouraged me to play more guitar solos than I have played collectively in my life until that point. He agrees – in mock-relief – that the finished music doesn’t sound like Titanic, before elaborating, “you know, I just didn’t want any of that dramatic, ‘one more cello please’ stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure it worked for Celine Dion or whoever it was”.

This ennui of his life being made into something that it isn’t, is something that has often plagued McEnroe post his tennis career. No more strings and cellos please, he has forever been asking, since his playing days derailed from the greatest to have ever played to purposeless slog. During his timeless duels with Björn Borg, the world – almost literally - had watched, leaning in on a scale that dwarves the one bequeathed Kyrgios. As the brilliant book On Being John McEnroe recounts, for the famous final in 1980, Nelson Mandela had persuaded guards to let him listen in from Robben Island prison. Sachin Tendulkar, aged seven, had watched from Bombay in a tennis kit and headband like his hero. Andy Warhol had got up early in Manhattan to catch it. They all loved him.

[Djokovic’s soaring intensity too much for Nick Kyrgios as he takes seventh Wimbledon title]

(Video) Novak Djokovic challenges John McEnroe to a match! | US Open 2009

This search for acceptance through tennis is something that laces itself through McEnroe’s inner monologue throughout the film we’ve just signed off. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do for decades”, he says, on this search for resolution and connection. “I’ve been brought up with ‘Don’t cry, be tough, men have to be this way’. So in some ways, I was hiding vulnerability or tears. I’d get angry and I was hiding myself with it a bit.” His is a story of second chances, coming in the form of a chance meeting with musician Patty Smyth, with who he has now been for 28 years. “You have to be able to allow that other person to be the person they are other than the person you want them to be. I always felt like she let me be me,” he says. “That’s all you can ask. It’s a really hard thing to accept and do.” She lets him play guitar around the house but usually pleads that he doesn’t sing.

When McEnroe departs London this week, he will leave behind him a few weeks where he has hosted and been part of the “100 years of champions” at Wimbledon, lining up alongside Roger Federer and, despite his silver hair and dark suit, still somehow popping out against the other champions in technicolour. In his public interviews he has regularly delved off the beaten track into Russia/Ukraine (he is anti-war but feels Russian players should have been allowed to play), vaccination (he is pro-vax but feels Novak Djokovic should not have been kicked out of Australia) and, in the evenings, taken guest turns on stage with both the Eagles and Pearl Jam at Hyde Park on guitar.

‘Every time I watch Nick and he pulls some stunt, I think: Was I that bad?’ - John McEnroe on Kyrgios (2)

There was a time, in the early 80s, that all he wanted was to never see it again. “If I win this tournament”, he says in the film, “I’m never f*cking coming back.” In time, this changed. “The moment I won it,” he tells me, “I felt like I could literally fly out of the stadium. There was this brief period where it all came off my shoulders and I thought, on second thoughts actually …” He pauses, perhaps remembering the repellant energy his outbursts attracted, “I didn’t realise that I’d be working for the BBC eventually. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”

There is an intriguingly opposite art to commentary than the one that fuelled him then. “It’s actually like music. It’s knowing when to pull away and to let it breathe. When you’re watching something great, sometimes it’s better to let it speak for itself.” He turns back to the fourth set tie-break between Kyrgios and Djokovic. “Just let people see this,” he thought to himself. There was nothing that needed to be said. “That’s what it’s about. Some of my best work is when I haven’t said anything.” And on Kyrgios? “He did electrifying things in a lot of ways,” he shrugs. “Even if it wasn’t always for the right reasons.”

(Video) Brilliant fan joke makes Nick Kyrgios laugh mid-match

- Guardian

McEnroe is in cinemas from 15th July

FAQs

What did McEnroe say about Nick Kyrgios? ›

Age 18+. T&Cs apply. John McEnroe says Nick Kyrgios went “too far” by smashing his racquets on court while Karen Khachanov celebrated his US Open quarter-final win against the Australian.

What is Kyrgios ethnicity? ›

Kyrgios was born on 27 April 1995 in Canberra, Australia, to a father of Greek origin, George, and a Malay mother, Norlaila ("Nill").

How rich is Nick kyrgios? ›

Nick Kyrgios Net worth
NameNicholas Hilmy Kyrgios
Source of IncomeTennis
Estimated wealth$15 million
Age26 years
Marital statusIn a relationship
5 more rows

How old is Nick kyrgios? ›

Who is John McEnroe's brother? ›

John McEnroe

How tall is Nick kyrgios? ›

Who is the most likable tennis player? ›

filters
  • 1 Serena Williams60%
  • 2 Venus Williams54%
  • 3 Maria Sharapova40%
  • 4 Roger Federer33%
  • 5 Naomi Osaka32%
  • 6 Rafael Nadal31%
  • 7 Novak Djokovic26%
  • 8 Caroline Wozniacki24%

Is the G silent in Kyrgios? ›

The “G” is silent. So “Kirr-ee-oss”. Not “Kurr-gee-oss”, like the spelling would suggest. Kyrgios is Aussie born.

Is Nick Kyrgios good? ›

Kyrgios is currently ranked 37th in the world, but would have a career-high ranking of 10 if Wimbledon results carried rankings points, after a blistering 2022 season so far.

How old is Tiafoe? ›

How old is Garin? ›

Where is kyrgios ranked? ›

Head2Head
NickKyrgios Rank 29JasonKubler 356 Rank
ThanasiKokkinakis Rank 27JohnPeers 13 Rank
F764 75

How much money has Nick Kyrgios made from tennis? ›

Nick Kyrgios: Net worth 2021

Kyrgios has accumulated prize money worth $11,194,480 so far in his career. He has an estimated net worth of $8 million.

Do top tennis players get appearance fees? ›

The top tennis players in the world are offered appearance fees (in addition to income from prize money and endorsement deals) by tournament organizers, if the latter believe these players will draw a larger fanbase and increase the tournament's overall profits.

Has Nick Kyrgios ever won a Grand Slam? ›

What age is Bjorn Borg? ›

Who is John McEnroe's daughter? ›

John McEnroe

Was Patrick McEnroe a good tennis player? ›

A three-time singles All-American (1986-88), he led Stanford to NCAA titles in 1986 and 1988. Most of McEnroe's professional success came in doubles, with 16 titles and reaching a career-high ranking of #3 in April 1993.

How tall is Tiafoe? ›

How heavy is Nick Kyrgios? ›

What happened to Nick Kyrgios? ›

After he reached the final of Wimbledon, Kyrgios was represented by his lawyer in an Australian court. Kyrgios faces a common assault charge relating to an incident in January 2021 in Canberra involving his former girlfriend, Chiara Passari. The case was adjourned to October 4.

Who is the most humble tennis player? ›

Roger Federer often says he was a very offensive child once. He later control his aggression and become a successful player. Many tennis fans consider him humble.

Who is the most loved male tennis player? ›

1. Roger Federer. Arguably the best tennis player of all time, Roger Federer has done it all. In a 23 year career spanning four decades, the Swiss has spent a combined 310 weeks at world no.

Who has the biggest fan base in tennis? ›

Who of the Big Three is the most loved tennis player by fans and...
  • At the same time, help unprivileged children of Africa through Tennis World Foundation. ...
  • Roger Federer is perhaps the absolute favorite of fans and crowds. ...
  • Rafael Nadal is also very popular with fans, almost as much as Federer.
28 Jan 2020

Is Gyro pronounced hero? ›

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word gyro is pronounced "yee-roh." It rhymes with hero. So the "g" is completely silent.

How does kyrgios pronounce his name? ›

How to Pronounce Nick Kyrgios? (Australian Tennis ... - YouTube

How do you say Elena Rybakina? ›

How to Pronounce Elena Rybakina - YouTube

What is Kyrgios weakness? ›

Kyrgios also has an excellent slice and a well-disguised drop shot, both of which he uses to good effect. Kyrgios' backhand is one of his biggest weaknesses, as he hits it with an abbreviated swing and without a lot of spin. His movement can also be exploited by his opponents; he is not the quickest around the court.

How fast does Nick Kyrgios serve? ›

143 mph

What makes Nick Kyrgios good? ›

That Kyrgios has a quick arm action means there is little time for him to overthink. Former Australian star Wally Masur said Kyrgios was renowned for his “thunderbolts”, while British four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman underscored just how big a weapon the serve is for Kyrgios.

How did Nick meet Costeen? ›

How did Nick Kyrgios and Costeen Hatzi meet? It's not known for sure, but based on their affectionate posts it appears they met on a night out in Sydney. In an early post about their relationship, one of Costeen's friends commented "God bless Bedouin" seemingly referring to the Double Bay bar.

Who is Nick Kyrgios sister? ›

Why is kyrgios good for tennis? ›

Nick Kyrgios, in all his glory, is a wildman. He's got John McEnroe's snarl coupled with the temperament of an angsty teenager. His tongue is sharp enough to slice right through kevlar. His on-court talent is securing a chapter in tennis history, with one of the best, if not the best, serve in the game.

Who is Nick Kyrgios brother? ›

Is Nick Kyrgios vegan? ›

It was announced earlier this year Kyrgios, a vegan, had partnered with prominent plant-based beef substitute company Beyond Meat. He said at the time was passionate about animal welfare and did not eat meat or dairy because he didn't believe in eating animals.

Who is the blonde in Kyrgios box? ›

Costeen Hatzi is a blogger and influencer who's based in Sydney, Australia. Hatzi currently has over 88,000 followers on Instagram and regularly posts pictures of her travels, outfits and beauty products.

Has Nick Kyrgios won a Grand Slam? ›

What does Halimah Kyrgios do? ›

The middle child of the Kyrgios family, Halimah is a Hong Kong-based artist who is a singer and a dancer. She and her brothers, Christos and Nick, were born and raised in Canberra.

What does Nick Kyrgios sister do for work? ›

Talent runs in her family – she's the sister of Canberra tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios, and she's worked as a theatre dancer and entertainer since finishing university.

Who is Nick kyrgios father? ›

What is Kyrgios weakness? ›

Kyrgios also has an excellent slice and a well-disguised drop shot, both of which he uses to good effect. Kyrgios' backhand is one of his biggest weaknesses, as he hits it with an abbreviated swing and without a lot of spin. His movement can also be exploited by his opponents; he is not the quickest around the court.

Is Nick Kyrgios a nice guy? ›

He emphasized that Kyrgios isn't a bad guy — although Tsitsipas, who described him as having an “evil” side, probably would disagree — but said that he “lacks respect for the crowd, his opponent and towards himself.” Kyrgios thinks he's good for the game, and some of the game's greats believe the same.

How many times has Djokovic beaten Kyrgios? ›

Djokovic vs Kyrgios: Head-to-Head

It's Kyrgios who has a 2-1 lead in the head-to-head, winning both their previous encounters (both on hard courts) in straight sets.

What seed is Kyrgios? ›

Head2Head
NickKyrgios Rank 63
FRoundScores

Who is the old guy in Kyrgios box? ›

The muscle inside Kyrgios' box belongs to Will Maher. The physiotherapist looks after Kyrgios personally during major tournaments and while the player is back home in Canberra. Maher previously worked for the Australian Schoolboys Rugby Union team and Tennis Australia's ACT National Academy.

Videos

1. Top 10 ATP Tennis Meltdowns & Angry Moments!
(Tennis TV)
2. Former tennis player John McEnroe discusses new documentary, career
(CBS Mornings)
3. This is Why Stefanos Tsitsipas Will Be the Most HATED Tennis Player in the World
(Tennistic Productions)
4. John McEnroe Answers Tennis Questions From Twitter | Tech Support | WIRED
(WIRED)
5. Novak Djokovic out of US Open after hitting judge with tennis ball | 2020 US Open Highlights
(ESPN)
6. Novak Djokovic to skip Serbia’s Davis Cup group stage ties
(Niche Generator)

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