Likening Nick Kyrgios to combustable American star John McEnroe, former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash says he hopes unrelenting criticism of the young star’s behaviour doesn’t force him out of tennis at a young age.
Kyrgios draws flack for his on-court antics and has already flagged that he doesn’t want to be playing the game by the time he turns 30, but Cash hopes Kyrgios at least hangs on long enough to leave his mark on the game.
“If I was his coach or his Dad, I’d be saying ‘What’s the thing you can do to win more tennis matches?’ because that’s what you need to do and just roll with it,” Cash said.
“He will learn a lot over the next few years and I hope he enjoys it because I’d hate for him to get to 26 and say ‘I can’t stand this game any more’ and just walk away’ because of the things going on around him.”
Cash says Kyrgios is an unmissable player when out on the court – something he says tennis needs and should do everything to keep.
“Wherever I go around the world, the first question I’m invariably asked is ‘Who’s this Kyrgios kid? What’s the story? What’s the deal with this guy?'” Cash said.
“It’s good for tennis. It creates interest and maybe not always the way we want it but he turns TV sets on.
“I’ve heard different people go ‘He’s great for tennis, he’s horrible for tennis.’
“But a couple of mates of mine say ‘If I know Kyrgios is on, I turn the TV on’ and that can’t be a bad thing really.”
Cash sees the similarities with McEnroe, one of tennis’ most animated on-court characters.
“If McEnroe is on TV, you turn it on and you can’t turn if off – it’s like ‘What’s going to happen next?'” he said.
“It’s kinda why you watch boxing, it’s why you watch a thriller movie.
“You’re not sure what’s happening next.”