Let’s be honest here: Nick Kyrgios is still looking to really make a mark in a Grand Slam tournament. The two quarterfinal appearances in majors are in his history, but they aren’t all that impressive really – at least not for all the hype that Krygios has received. The Aussie certainly doesn’t have much to complain about when one looks at his 2016 US Open draw, so if he doesn’t make at least the semifinals over the next two weeks then I’m looking for all the Kyrgiosites out there to cool off their hype.
This is my breakdown of Kyrgios’ draw to the semifinals:
Round 1: 95% favorite against Aljaz Bedene
Round 2: 90% favorite against Florian Mayer (or stronger favorite against Horacio Zeballos)
Round 3: 65% favorite against Bernard Tomic (or stronger favorite against other)
Round 4: 50/50 against Stan Wawrinka (or favored against other)
Quarters: Underdog against Dominic Thiem or Juan Martin del Potro, favored against David Ferrer, Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey, Fabio Fognini, or other
I like Kyrgios’ draw overall, and that has a lot to do with Wawrinka. Kyrgios, Tomic, and the Swiss share a path to the quarters. Wawrinka hasn’t been playing that great this season, and I think he’s the most likely Top-4 seed to see elimination before the semi-finals. That could open things up for other players in Wawrinka’s quarter.PDF Embedder requires a url attribute
That Kyrgios is in the weak quarter is clear, however, I wouldn’t say that he has a good chance of making the semifinals – he’s just in the mix. Tomic, who is in Kyrgios’ section of the draw, has livened up a bit of late with recent victories over Kei Nishikori, David Goffin, and Roberto Bautista Agut. A potential third-round hurdle could be a high one for Kyrgios, one where he might need to keep his cool for several hours. I think Wawrinka’s quarter will probably be about who is ‘left over’ among the peripheral contenders as opposed to who will emerge as a serious threat for the title.
But even if Kyrgios is the left-over player from Wawrinka’s quarter, then his late-round draw could go through Andy Murray and then either Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, or Milos Raonic. Facing that kind of draw, Kyrgios would still be a 99 to 1 longshot to win the tournament. Seriously: he would have about a 10% chance of winning each late-round match in my view (and 10% times 10% is 1%).
I think Kyrgios is the type of player that will prove tennis writers wrong for all the wrong reasons. There are guys that are under-rated that shut everyone’s mouth by winning tournaments and then there’re guys that are over-rated that prove all their supporters wrong by losing.
Take Michael Steinberger with NyTimes.com for example. He recently called Kyrgios “quite possibly the most gifted tennis player to come along since Roger Federer” (August 25th, 2016). The exact date that Federer “(came) along” could be debated, but he won his first Grand Slam in 2003.
Since that time Nadal has “come along,” Djokovic has “come along,” del Potro has “come along,” Murray has “come along,” Wawrinka has “come along,” and Marin Cilic has “come along.” I think its egregious tennis analysis to even suggest that Kyrgios might “quite possibly” be more gifted than Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, del Potro, Wawrinka, or Cilic. I mean the Aussie, who is now getting close to 21-and-a-half years of age, has just two titles. Look passed the flash, the cool hair, and the arrogance. Kyrgios has just TWO titles, and they are both crummy ones at the 250 level.
Del Potro had 7 titles when he was still 20 years old, including a Grand Slam title. Nadal had 16 titles WHEN HE WAS STILL A TEENAGER. Think about that – someone is writing for the New York Times claiming that Kyrgios “quite possibly” might be “the most gifted tennis player” since Federer, yet the Aussie so plainly and clearly doesn’t come close to measuring up to that lofty comment.
Even if you look at the non-Grand Slam winners that have “come along” since 2003 there’s oodles and oodles of players that might be more gifted than Kyrgios. Those include Raonic, Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko, David Ferrer, Thiem, Nishikori, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and others. I’m not sure that Kyrgios’ title counts will be greater than anyone of those players at career’s end.
I looked at Kyrgios in my season preview for the current ATP season several months ago. Quoting myself:
“Kyrgios is different than a lot of players on tour, because of his style and attitude. But, while his fans might wish, hope, and dream, they shouldn’t expect much out the Aussie in the upcoming 2016 season.”
Two third-round eliminations and one fourth-round elimination in majors. That’s nothing impressive, and a lack of heart could easily have something to do with it.
If you ranked every player mentioned in this article in terms of in-match determination, then Kyrgios would be DEAD LAST. If you don’t think there’s insight there, then you don’t know your tennis. You can lose heart as an individual in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and every other team sport and still win if your teammates bail you out. But tennis doesn’t have substitutions and Kyrgios often needs one.
When things don’t go perfectly his way in the US Open, look for the Aussie to meltdown and maybe serve a second serve 3 feet out on break point. With the draw, I see Kyrgios’ maximum potential as a semifinalist at the 2016 US Open barring shocking luck. If he goes out before the quarters, then I hope it starts cooling off the hype surrounding him, because this guy doesn’t have it.
Until Kyrgios makes a Grand Slam semifinal and wins three tour titles, who is to say that Joachim Johannson isn’t a better player? Not sure who that is? That’s part of the point.