Maverick's spirit ensures tennis' appeal in good Nick

Maverick's spirit ensures tennis' appeal in good Nick
Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios, 19, faces Andy Murray today after he saved a match point against Italy’s Andreas Seppi to win a thrilling five-setter 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 8-6.

NICK Kyrgios wears yellow and turns the air blue with invective.

He'll break a racquet as easily as he hits an ace, accumulates fans and then fines, charms spectators and scraps with himself.

He fights back from two sets down and finds time to shout "Get off your ****ing phone, mate". He wants your full attention. Then, he'll tell you: "I think I'm just managing my emotions a bit better out there."

Nick Kyrgios is hard to dislike, even as he lurches from tirade to triumph. He's a fidgety, fascinating mix of swagger and shrug, he'll demand your applause while occasionally strutting on the edge of appalling.

He wears cockiness like a cologne and he's a teenage spirit not yet handcuffed by tradition or evidently even by the rules. He's a rapper with a racket.

Roger Federer said the other day that "with experience sometimes I feel you start to play safer or the percentages more. That can become a bit boring".

Kyrgios doesn't do boring, he's instinctive, he reminds us that before tactics, ranking and focus, sport is first about spontaneity. It is a weapon of its own and he, ranked No. 53, is in his second quarter-final in his seventh grand slam event. He's not Federer, in any way, but even Federer didn't do that.

He's 19 and this isn't yet the age of Kyrgios but there's no getting past his years. It's in his game. Casually captivating. His talent. Raw. His manner. Unapologetic, undaunted, unvarnished. His philosophy.

Go, go, go. In one match, the umpire asks him to slow down because he's ready to start the point too fast. CalmDown is for him a swear word.

Kyrgios, half Ausssie, half-Malaysian, froths over like an over-shaken, just-opened beer and in a super sport of mostly sober men, he's intoxicating. Tennis is flush with hard-working saints and he's a minor-sinning, over six-foot sensation.

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