Can Nick Kyrgios win the Australian Open?
There are many subplots attached to the upcoming 2023 Australian Open, and Nick Kyrgios is right up there with the most fascinating of them.
The 27-year-old always puts on a show in Melbourne regardless, but that was before this new Nick Kyrgios we have seen this year. The Grand Slam finalist Kyrgios, the professional Kyrgios.
He will head into the Australian Open as a genuine favourite, but can he really win it?
Why Nick Kyrgios can win the Australian Open
Desire: You know, ‘desire’ is not a word anyone would have associated with Nick Kyrgios before, certainly not in the context of tennis, anyway. He would probably be the first to admit that.
The last 12 months really seem to have lit a fire under him, though. He has committed to his tennis like never before and it has shown. His run to the Wimbledon final was incredible to watch and it certainly wasn’t thanks to easy matches.
In fact, there were times he had to dig really deep, particularly in the fourth round against Brendan Nakashima.
Reaching a Grand Slam final has almost certainly just fuelled his motivation even more too.
Belief: The other thing that reaching the final of Wimbledon will have done for Nick Kyrgios is to inspire his belief that he can do it.
Things didn’t go how he wanted in the end, mainly due to an incredible Novak Djokovic performance, but he still had to be there to lose it.
He will go into the Australian Open knowing he has the quality to reach the final of a major, and from there it’s just a case of winning one more match.
Home advantage: If anyone wants to tell you that tennis lacks atmosphere, send them to Melbourne Park to watch a Nick Kyrgios match.
The show he puts on really is something to behold and he is able to whip the Australian crowd up into the kind of frenzy that can swallow opponents up whole.
What will be really interesting is if he gets his usual wish to be scheduled on John Cain Arena, or whether he is now moved to Rod Laver. He will be hoping for the former, as he believes the crowd is much more authentic there compared to the more corporate and sanitised main showcourt.
The longer he keeps walking out on John Cain, though, the tougher he will be to beat. He also now has the experience of winning the doubles title at the Australian Open last year, and that will be huge for his belief too.
The balls: Everyone always has an opinion on tennis balls. They have so much variety that one player’s dream ball can be another player’s nightmare.
Dunlop are once again the supplier of the Australian Open balls this year, and some are already practicing with them – and tipping Kyrgios to find them very well-suited to his big hitting game.
Having hit with the AO 2023 Dunlop balls the last week my general observation is they are light and quick, especially when new. Not the easiest to control initially even in the humid conditions where I am in Brisbane. NK, Hurkacz, Fritz all very dangerous this AO ??
— John Millman (@johnhmillman) December 7, 2022
Having hit with the AO 2023 Dunlop balls the last week my general observation is they are light and quick, especially when new,” John Millman said. “Not the easiest to control initially even in the humid conditions where I am in Brisbane. Nick Kyrgios, [Hubert] Hurkacz, [Taylor] Fritz all very dangerous this Australian Open.
Why Nick Kyrgios might not win the Australian Open
Novak Djokovic: Kyrgios will have the same problem that every other man in the competition will have – the return of Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic is the most dominant man in Australian Open history. In fact, he is chasing a 10th title down under this year, and if he gets it we can start to talk about dominance at a similar level to that which Rafael Nadal enjoys at Roland Garros.
He didn’t play last year due to his high-profile visa issues, but he is back in 2023 and will he hungrier than ever.
Pressure: Watching Nick Kyrgios at the US Open was absolutely fascinating. It was his first major since the Wimbledon final and it was clear that there was a new focus. The desire we talked about earlier was obvious too.
In many ways, though, because it was so raw and intense it actually appeared to eventually work against him. He put himself under too much pressure to repeat what he did at Wimbledon and he lost his temperament.
Has he learned from that or has not backing up his Wimbledon performance in New York just resulted in his putting even more pressure on himself? If it’s the latter, he’s not going to win the Australian Open.
How, too, will he deal with the renewed expectation of the Australian crowd? He was always a bit of a side show before – a maverick underdog. This time, he will be a favourite.
Temperament: It’s the same reason for Kyrgios to fail to deliver on his talent and it is still very much a major factor now. Yes, he has improved in this area considerably, but the weakness hasn’t gone away.
All it means is that it might take a little more pressure to expose it but, as we’ve discussed, there will likely be a lot more pressure on him this time around.
There is every chance that Kyrgios’ Australian Open will end the same way that pretty much all his other majors have – in a tantrum and him ultimately beating himself.
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