Nick Kyrgios says the tennis media and establishment has 'crucified him' for being a character, but he thinks the sport needs him.
Kyrgios beat Gianluca Mager in straight sets on Thursday to move into the third round of Wimbledon, where he will face Felix Auger-Aliassime.
His unusual style and on-court attitude have always drawn television viewers, although they have also attracted plenty of criticism from tennis traditionalists.
He, though, believes the sport needs to be more open minded to characters to deviate from the norm, particularly with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic coming to the end of their amazing careers.
“I still think tennis especially locks in these types of players that have so much to give to the sport,” Kyrgios said.
“It happened for the first three, four years of my career. I was crucified for doing anything out of the ordinary, out of the box, talking to the crowd, hitting between my legs, underarm serve.
“The biggest example is when I hit an underarm serve against Rafa in Acapulco. It was like, ‘Disgraced the game, he has no respect for the sport. He’s a disgrace.’
“Then you have people like Kei Nishikori hitting underarm serves. It’s like, ‘Oh, he’s so tactically switched on.'”
“You have players now that I love watching, like Bublik, you’ve got Tiafoe. You’ve got these guys who are not conforming. They’re making the sport awesome.
“I feel like tennis has to get behind these players. Once Djokovic, Federer, Nadal all leave, this sport is going to be in dire need of personalities to take that torch.”
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