Say what you will about Nick Kyrgios, but Australian Open boss Craig Tiley knows the walking headline is good for business.
While Tiley can’t condone some of his on-court antics and would prefer the 20-year-old let his racquet do the talking, the tournament director says Kyrgios puts bums on seats.
“Nick’s created another element to the event and brought a lot to the sport because there’s a lot of intrigue around him,” Tiley told AAP on Sunday.
“It’s kind of interesting because you read the commentary about what people say about Nick and just listen to social conversation and people want to watch him.
“For whatever reason, whether it’s for his brilliant shots or they want to see him do something on the court, be the entertainer, people want to watch him.
“He’s got the flair and the colour and the entertainment and the non-traditional look about him.
“So there’s that an intrigue and interest that gets people wanting to find out more about him.
“So from an event point of view, he adds colour. He adds to the sport.
“But there’s a fine line. We have a circle in tennis and there’s a code and I’m respectful of our sport and you want players to stay within that code.”
Ultimately, Tiley – wearing his other hat as head of Tennis Australia and former director of player development – wants Kyrgios to realise his immense potential.
To do that, Tiley believes Kyrgios not only needs to work as hard as grand slam giants Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, but also win the support of the Australian public.
Kyrgios polarises people and Tiley is advising the temperamental talent to take a leaf out of Daria Gavrilova’s book.
The Russian-born newly naturalised youngster has emerged as Australia’s darling of the court, wowing fans with her exuberance and spirit.
“Dasha’s very quickly endeared herself to the public over the past few weeks. She brings great energy and effort to the court,” Tiley said.
“In my dealings with Nick off the court, he’s an intelligent young man and he knows there’s a lot of pressure out there and his response to the pressure is very different.
“He’s going through that journey of learning what it is.
“But every time I see him, I see him improvement and I see him doing things better.
“He’s more engaging with the media and staff. He enters in conversation more with them whereas he didn’t before.
“So you get the sense that he’s going to get there.
“He’s still a young guy but because he got to the quarter-finals last year, round of 32 this year, we have these expectations that he’s going to keep winning and get to the finals and he himself probably has that expectation.
“But you’ve got to go through a bit more of a journey to be able to have that consistency.”
Asked if the tournament would miss Kyrgios following his drama-charged third-round exit on Friday night, Kyrgios said: “The tournament always takes care of itself in the second week.
“Will we miss colourful characters? We always will.
“But we know when when it comes to ticket sales, in the second week there’s never many seats left.
“We’ve got great players left – Djokovic, Serena Williams, Vika Azarenka, Federer, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Nishikori – it’s got a great line-up, week two.
“We’ve got Aussies – Bernie Tomic and Dasha Gavrilova – and if it was Nick, that would be great too.
“But the show rolls on.”