John McEnroe still hopes Nick Kyrgios can find a way to love tennis

Press Association Sport 10:58 22/06/2019
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John McEnroe still hopes Nick Kyrgios can find a way to love tennis – but he was not a fan of the Australian’s criticism of Novak Djokovic.

Kyrgios created more negative headlines at Queen’s Club on Thursday after getting involved in rows with two umpires and throwing a racket over the stands following defeat to Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Queen’s was Kyrgios’ first ATP tournament since he was defaulted from the Italian Open in Rome last month after throwing a chair across the court, and gave an interview to the No Challenges Remaining podcast in which he criticised Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Kyrgios labelled Djokovic’s celebration, where he throws his arms out to the fans, “cringeworthy”, and said: “I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him.”

The 24-year-old certainly brings attention to tennis, something McEnroe was and is no stranger to, but he felt Kyrgios’ comments about Djokovic were a misstep.

Asked if Kyrgios’ outspoken attitude is a positive for the sport, the American said: “I guess if you look at it from that standpoint, if you are a believer in ‘any press is good press’, you can make that argument.

John Mcenroe

“If you say Novak, he’s too busy waving to the crowd, is that the best you can come up with? That he has decided to turn to all four parts of the stadium? I mean, come on. Doesn’t he deserve it since he has won 15 slams? He can do whatever the hell he wants.”

McEnroe can empathise with Kyrgios’ antics on court but finds the variation in his effort levels hard to swallow.

“I have talked with him,” said the Eurosport pundit.

“Nick is a good guy. I think the people around him like him. The players like him. They don’t like what he does on the court sometimes.

“I don’t think he could even say, ‘I like the fact that I try half the time’. I mean, how could anyone think that’s ultimately (good)?

“I wasn’t known as the easiest person to deal with. So, to me that person has to be ready to embrace whoever that is (trying to help). They have to be willing to listen to the person.

“He’s 24-years-old. He brings an electricity to tennis. That’s why everyone is trying to figure a way to work through this so he can get to a place where he can go out and feel free to compete and give the effort.

Kyrgios criticised Novak Djokovic.

Kyrgios criticised Novak Djokovic.

“I don’t care if he throws a chair on the court or does what he does. The part that I have a problem with, and I am assuming 99 per cent of the rest of the tour do, is when you go out there and don’t seem like you are giving an effort half of the time.”

Patience with Kyrgios that was more forthcoming when he was a teenager and in his early 20s appears to rapidly be running out, and the Australian shows no sign of changing any time soon.

Asked whether he believes Kyrgios will one day regret not making more of his talent, McEnroe said: “It would be hard to believe he wouldn’t think (that).

“He seems in certain ways not to care what people think. And that can be empowering. Alienating yourself, it takes some guts in a way to put yourself out there.

“He doesn’t need to say what he said about Novak. People are already talking. He could turn it into tennis hypothetically and still people would talk about him.”

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