Nick Kyrgios’ best tennis is behind him and his days as a potential superstar are over as he is overtaken by a new breed on tour.
Nick Kyrgios has always been referred to as a well of untapped potential capable of anything when everything finally clicks.
But the truth is, those optimistic days are over and he’s been overtaken by a new breed of younger, hungrier tennis stars with higher ceilings than the Australian wild child.
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Kyrgios entered the US Open ranked 86th in the world. A straight-set first-round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut means he will collapse even further when the next official ranking is released. The ATP live ranking already puts him at 95 – his lowest place since June 2014, before he capitalized on his busted Wimbledon campaign which included a shock victory over Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios has never played for ranking points or accolades, so he probably won’t mind. As he has said on several occasions, he is an artist who takes pride in putting on a show for the fans who pay a lot of money to watch his matches.
But this entertainment is proving increasingly rare. Kyrgios has only played eight tournaments since last year’s Australian Open, choosing to stay at home during much of the pandemic. Canberran have been knocked out in the first round in four of those eight tournaments.
Kyrgios’ Wimbledon flash went off this year when his body dropped him and he never looked like he beat Bautista Agut in New York.
Kyrgios is only 26 years old but his best days on the pitch are behind him. Again he might not have a problem with that given he has higher priorities than tennis, but he seems sad to accept given that so many good judges have nominated him as a possible grand slam winner earlier in his career, if he managed to combine his raw talent. with the right attitude.
It’s time to appreciate what Kyrgios has already achieved, rather than reflect on what is yet to come. It is no longer the future of tennis.
Instead, there will be 42 players younger than Kyrgios above him when the new rankings are released after the US Open and at least 23 who can expect better times than the Aussie star.
Players who have already passed Kyrgios
Daniil Medvedev (25) – The world number 2 has already appeared in three Grand Slam finals, at this year’s Australian Open and US Open and at the 2019 US Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (23) – Ranked third in the world, Tsitsipas has won seven titles, qualified for the Roland Garros final this year and played two semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Alexander Zverev (24) – Slowly starting to erase his reputation as a grand slam choker, the world number 4 has 17 career titles and will relish a time when Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be retired.
Andrey Rublev (23) – The Russian had a breakthrough in 2020, winning five titles and this year rose to seventh in the career-best world rankings.
Matteo Berrettini (25) – Qualified for his first-ever Grand Slam final at Wimbledon this year and reached the semi-finals in New York in two of the past three years.
Players who are starting to reach the level of Kyrgios, with the potential for more
Casper Ruud (22) – Once known to Australian fans as the guy across the net when Nick Kyrgios destroyed a chair in Italy, Ruud is now world No.11 thanks to five titles won in the past two years , all on clay.
Jannik Sinner (20) – A talent described as ‘not human’ by Alexander Bublik earlier this year, the world No.16 only turned pro in 2018, but put his name in the spotlight by winning at Washington last month.
Denis Shapovalov (22) – Like Zverev, struggled to muster his best Grand Slam tennis until qualifying for the Wimbledon semi-finals this year, but has been consistent throughout the year to become a mainstay of the top 20 and sneak into the top 10 this year.
Felix Auger-Aliassime (21) – Reached his first major semifinal in New York this week and shoved Shapovalov for the mantle of Canada’s brightest young star.
Hubert Hurkacz (24) – The Pole is not a household name among casual tennis observers, but he showed enough consistency to reach 13th in the world.
Frances Tiafoe (23) – Not in the same class as the other names already mentioned in terms of rankings (world No.50) or results, but he’s a box office artist in the Kyrgios mold – only without the little antics.
It shouldn’t be a brighter outlook than Kyrgios, but it could be
Talent level alone, Alex de Minaur (22) shouldn’t be at Kyrgios’ level, but the Australian roadrunner has shown he can hit above his weight, while Cristian Garin (25) , Ugo Humbert (23) and Cameron Norrie (26)) do not have the same weapons as Kyrgios but at this point in their respective careers, have a greater advantage.
Reilly Opelka, the 2.11m American giant with booming serve, is still only 24 and recently reached the final of a Masters 1000 in Toronto, while compatriot Taylor Fritz (23) has shown enough to suggest that there are more good times than bad. .
Karen Khachanov (25) won silver at the Tokyo Olympics and is another who probably has more to look forward to than Kyrgios, despite not being blessed with the same natural ability.
Say hello to the new generation
We thought the original next generation – Tsitsipas, Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Medvedev – would have taken up tennis by now, but by refusing to retire, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic ensured that this had not yet happened. .
Tsitsipas and Co. have matured and there is now an even younger brigade below them who are starting to emerge as possible stars of the future.
Carlos Alcaraz Garfia (18) made his first Grand Slam quarter-final at this year’s US Open and American Jenson Brooksby (20) beat Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 this week as well.
There’s also a blue sky ahead for Sebastian Korda (21), Lorenzo Musetti (19) and Australian Alexei Popyrin (22).
That makes 23 players worth buying shares for as the Aussie crumbles – a situation that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, when it felt like Canberran had the world at his feet.