Kyrgios' roving eye is the sign of a loser

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This was published 1 year ago

Kyrgios' roving eye is the sign of a loser

By Jim White

Nick Kyrgios was not involved in the French Open. The Australian firebrand preferred to keep himself at a safe distance from Roland Garros, reluctant to re-engage with group activity in a time of COVID-19. But that does not mean the man with the mouth the width of the Tasman Sea was keeping quiet.

Even as Rafael Nadal was equalling Roger Federer's total number of grand slam successes with another triumph on clay, Kyrgios was letting loose during a sponsor's online question-and-answer session. Reminiscing about the days when crowds were allowed in to watch matches, he recalled how distracting he found their presence. Well, not everyone, just those whose looks caught his eye. He remembered one occasion when he spotted a particularly attractive spectator, who put him off his stroke as he advanced on victory.

Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer in September last year.

Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer in September last year.Credit:AP

"I was slicing up Fedz [Roger Federer] and was like, 'damn'. I wanted to take her out for a drink," he said, before getting specific about what type of female fan was most likely to distract him. "Eastern Europeans just have my heart on the get-go. Tall eastern Europeans, I'm just like, 'take half my earnings'."

And with that revelation, Kyrgios demonstrated why - despite possessing an abundance of the physical gifts required to do so - he will never win a grand slam. At the top of sport, the ability to lock out distraction is what distinguishes the gifted from the winners. It is concentration that makes the difference.

At the Rio Olympics, for instance, the triathlon route provided a spectacular loop of the finest vistas of the city, starting and finishing on Copacabana Beach. Just to watch the competitors as they flew past the sights was jaw-dropping.

Yet when I questioned British athlete Alistair Brownlee about whether he was tempted to take in the view on his way to the gold medal, he looked at his inquisitor as if he was a visitor from another planet. "No," was his simple response. The fact was, like winners of the Tour de France or those who finish on the podium in the London Marathon, he had blocked out his surroundings.

I was slicing up Fedz [Roger Federer] and was like, 'damn'. I wanted to take her out for a drink.

Nick Kyrgios

That is what champions do. Lewis Hamilton will know every inch of the tarmac of every grand prix circuit. Yet what lies beyond the edges of the track is of such little concern to the process of victory, he remains entirely unaware of it. If shown pictures, he probably would not be able to distinguish between the packed grandstands at Silverstone and those at Spa, never mind how comely the occupants.

He may claim in press conferences he draws inspiration from his fans, but you suspect he is just being polite. The fact he has been as magnificently unstoppable while performing without crowds during the pandemic suggests their presence makes no difference to his ability to perform. Or to his relentless pursuit of success.


However, poor Kyrgios seems perpetually prone to the slightest outside intrusion. Female supporters, irritating line judges, an opponent fiddling with his shorts: anything and everything seems to upset his stride.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the net, he is faced with men whose laser-like focus is their defining feature. That match when Kyrgios lost his way against Federer: ask the Swiss and he would be unable to recall who was in the crowd as he turned things around to inflict another defeat on the hapless Australian.

The idea that his will to win would be compromised by making plans for dating any of them is ludicrous. And that is not just because his self-styled No.1 fan, the one who spends much of Wimbledon every year desperately trying to seize his attention, is the former speaker of the UK House of Commons, John Bercow.

Telegraph, London

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