Former US Open champion John McEnroe has hailed Australian star Nick Kyrgios as playing the best tennis he’s ever played, but did warn that is “not impossible” that he could walk away from the sport after the US Open.
Kyrgios, 27, produced one of the performances of his career as he beat number one seed Daniil Medvedev in four sets on Sunday evening, in what was one of the games of the tournament.
Speaking afterwards Kyrgios made vague comments about this being the end of his journey in tennis, which led to intense speculation about his future. “It’s the last biggest tournament of the year,” he said. “We’ve got to try and just tough it out and keep pushing each other, keep being positive. Next week we’re going home. But three more matches potentially, then we never have to play tennis again.”
Speaking with Barbara Schett on the Eurosport pre-show ahead of Monday’s action, McEnroe said: “Well I’ve got some bad news for you. Ash Barty [retired after winning a major], so it’s not impossible to think that he could do that.
“We hope he won’t do that because there’s a phrase, I think it’s worldwide – ‘better late than never’. That applies to Nick, because he wasn’t professional for a long time, he played a lot of matches where he wasn’t giving it his all, and now you see what he’s capable of when he does. And he trains and he’s in shape and the guy’s phenomenal.”
McEnroe, who won at Flushing Meadows four times as a player, was also full of praise for Kyrgios’ serve, hailing as one of the best the game has ever seen.
He also defended Kyrgios’ decision not to have a coach, calling him “a genius”, but he stressed that it is important to have a team around him that makes him feel comfortable so he can play at his best.
“First of all, I’ve said this before, the guy has got one of the greatest serves in the history of tennis. The guy was serving at 70% – I don’t think people realise that’s the highest on tour, how big he serves, how good his second serve is – now he is backing it up big time. If he plays like he did last night, he is going to win the tournament.
“The way Kyrgios is serving, I don’t care where you stand. If you stand well back, did you notice he started serving and volleying. The guy is a genius on the court, he doesn’t need a coach, he did an unbelievable job tactically. Medvedev was throwing a lot at him – I was saying Medvedev will play long rallies, test him physically and he’ll win most of those points. Guess what? He didn’t even win most of those [longer] points. When Kyrgios gets down on his opponent’s serve he lets it go a little bit, paces himself, manages himself well but he’s also a lot fitter than he has ever been.
“Nick needs to be comfortable with the team that is around him. It’s a tough job sometimes being in Kyrgios’ box – he’s in such a great place mentally and it’s like ‘he’s figured it out’. He’s 27, he’s coming into his prime. I like him, he moves the needle. I’m glad he turned it around and I am only sad he is not playing in the Laver Cup. We’re still begging.”