McEnroe challenges Kyrgios to address his 'demons' after stirring Wimbledon run

By Sports Desk July 12, 2022

John McEnroe claims "tortured" soul Nick Kyrgios can play a big part in shaping the future of tennis, if he finds a way to manage his demons.

Wimbledon runner-up Kyrgios repeatedly lost his cool during his run at the All England Club, aiming cruel jibes at on-court officials, swearing during matches, being hostile to his own support team, and even spitting towards a spectator on one occasion.

It made it all the more remarkable that the Australian navigated a path through to the title match, albeit benefiting from a walkover in the semi-finals when Rafael Nadal pulled out with an abdominal injury.

McEnroe was no stranger to a vitriolic outburst during his playing career, earning the nickname of 'Superbrat'.

The 63-year-old is well positioned to assess the volatile Kyrgios, whose talent has never been in question but often rubs up awkwardly against his application and attitude.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, McEnroe said: "I get a lot of what's going on here more than most people.

"He's a good kid, the players like him, he's well liked in the locker room, he does a lot of charity work.

"But he's got demons you know, in a way – we all have this fear of failure, and it's a question of how you best deal with it."

McEnroe said Kyrgios "moves the needle for us in tennis", suggesting the 27-year-old has skills that can move the sport in an exciting direction.

"We need this big time, but we don't need him to try half the time," McEnroe said.

The likes of Novak Djokovic, who got the better of Kyrgios in Sunday's Wimbledon final, along with Nadal, are in their mid-30s and cannot keep going forever. Roger Federer, now without an ATP ranking after a year of inactivity, is widely assumed to be close to retiring.

It remains to be seen whether Kyrgios, who has been summonsed to face a common assault charge in Australia, invests more into his tennis career in future. He appears to have an on-off love affair with the sport, being reluctant to let it dominate his life.

Of the world's top 100, only Djokovic and Nadal have played fewer ATP tournaments than Kyrgios' 12 events in the past year. Djokovic (11 tournaments) has missed some events due to his refusal to accept a COVID-19 vaccination, while injuries have limited Nadal's involvement to nine events.

McEnroe said Kyrgios "is a genius out there" on the court.

"He needs Sigmund Freud to come out of the grave and somehow figure out a way to keep this guy going for a couple of years because we could use him," said the American.

Kyrgios would likely not submit to such psychoanalysis, having been rattled by the coverage of his tantrums rivalling that of his tennis during the Wimbledon fortnight.

McEnroe added, speaking to BBC Sport: "You know he's sitting there and he's obviously tortured in certain ways. [He's] unbelievably talented, very smart."

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