Andy Murray has urged Australians to allow their rising teen star Nick Kyrgios time to grow up and not be so condemning of his on-court excesses after a headline-grabbing Australian Open campaign.
The mercurial 19-year-old showcased his exceptional talent by reaching a second Grand Slam quarter-final inside a year after he made the last eight at Wimbledon.
His efforts made him the first male teen to reach multiple Slam quarter-finals since Roger Federer in 2001.
It was Murray’s greater experience and composure that ended it for Kyrgios in straight sets on Tuesday evening, but the two-time Grand Slam champion was gracious in his praise of the youngster going forward.
Flashy Kyrgios has divided opinion with his foul-mouth tirades during his matches and was given a code violation warning for an audible obscenity by the chair umpire during the first set against Murray.
But the Scot, who carried the weight of British expectations before ending its 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon champion in 2013, called for some understanding.
“Yeah, he gets frustrated with himself and sometimes says things he shouldn’t, but everyone, I would think, has done that in some way when they’re 19,” Murray said.
“It just happens that when he’s doing it he’s playing in front of a large audience and it gets picked up on.”
Murray, himself one who often colourfully vents his frustrations on court, said Kyrgios would mature with time.
“I’ve spent a little bit of time with him and I think he’s a good person. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. He’s nice,” Murray said.
“He’s always been polite and respectful. Maybe he does the odd thing on the court that might annoy some people, but I don’t think he does anything with bad intent.
“He’s only going to continue to mature and improve in that respect as he gets older. He just needs to be allowed to grow up. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re that age.”
– Talent and potential –
Four-time major winner Jim Courier senses some uncertainty in the men’s locker room as to which way Krygios will develop as a tennis player on tour.
“The guys in the locker-room are watching really closely because they know he’s a real challenger to the throne, and there aren’t many people in that conversation as far as the challengers go, so it’s special for Nick,” Courier said this week.
“But it’s early days. My read on it is that there are a lot of question marks about where he’ll go from here.
“Is he going to be a great champion? He has that talent and potential. Or is he going to be a Gael Monfils, who focused more on entertainment, less on getting the most out of himself?”
Kyrgios was satisfied with the way he dealt with the hype focused on him at his home Grand Slam.
“I thought I dealt with it really well this week. It’s another Grand Slam. I just enjoyed it,” he said. “That’s why I play the game, to play these types of tournaments.
“I think one of my goals is just to stay healthy. I just want to stay on the court and do what I love to do out there: play.”