HE may be something of a social media ‘giant’ with endless crude posts and taunts of others, but in the real world Nick Kyrgios doesn’t get a mention.

A recent survey and track of sports and celebrities popularity Down Under by the Gemma Group has revealed that Krgios doesn’t even rate in the top.

Former world No.1 Ash Barty might have retired last year, but her popularity and commercial appeal is still at an all-time high – and she ranks above the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and even Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman (also Australian to the uninitiated)

Barty came came in at No. 1 in a measurement of the marketability of athletes and other celebrities in Australia, and she beat an impressive list of well known names.

The Gemba Group tracks the ‘likeability’ and ‘awareness’ of athletes within the Australian public and determines their ‘star power’.

Dylan Alcott and Thanasi Kokkinakis in Melbourne last year. Photo: George Sal/TENNIS AUSTRALIA

Barty beat both Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal – with wheelchair tennis star and 2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott also on the list in fourth spot.

Cricket, as you would expect from Australia, also featured, with Aussie Test stars Pat Cummins and Steve Smith on the list.

But still no Kyrgios.

Take away their sports angle and Barty is still No.1, with Jackman and musician Ed Sheeran behind.

And he popularity is so big she has a long list of sponsors including telecom giant Optus, Marriott, RADO, Qantas and Vegemite.

Interestingly, Barty was also the most googled Australian figure in 2022, yes even nudging out Kyrgios, despite his longtime brag about his presence.

A pregnant Ash Barty takes her dogs for a run near her Queensland home last week.

Australia’s leading ‘marketable’ individuals

  1. Ash Barty – tennis
  2. Roger Federer – tennis
  3. Rafael Nadal – tennis
  4. Dylan Alcott – tennis
  5. Pat Cummins – cricket
  6. Stephanie Gilmore – surfing
  7. Steve Smith – cricket
  8. Daniel Ricciardo – F1
  9. Tim Cahill – soccer
  10. Ellyse Perry – cricket
Naomi Osaka with longtime boyfriend, rapper Cordai.

SO now we know… Congratulations to Naomi Osaka – announcing her pregnancy after rumours grew as to why she wasn’t playing Melbourne this week.

“I know that I have so much to look forward to in the future, one thing I’m looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, ‘that’s my mom.,” she wrote on her social media post.

AND … one reason why Kyrgios is so divisive in Australian sport and will never be as accepted as Barty or a few others, is his online vitriol towards other Aussie sporting legends.

His latest outburst was aimed at Pat Rafter – a real Aussie tennis legend.

Rafter said his doubles pairing with Thanasi Kokkinakis was a ‘circus’ on line on Thursday, which caused the usual sledge from Kyrgios.

“It’s a bit of a circus. Doubles is a great event, it’s a lot of fun and it helps you with singles, but it’s not where it’s at,” Rafter wrote.

“If they create drama, create ticket sales, and they create people watching, then good on them, but at what expense, I don’t know.

“The players are really upset. Are you supposed to understand the unwritten rule that that’s not how you behave when you do?”

Kyrgios hit back … ‘He would have absolutely zero idea what the locker room thinks,’ the 29-year-old wrote.

‘Me and kokk have great relationships with most of the players on tour. Guy is clueless.’

Clueless? Well, he’s won more than you Nick – on court and off it with a mature approach that you just wouldn’t understand.

Rafa Nadal is not happy with the quality of the 2023 AO balls, made by Dunlop. Photo: Tennis Australia/ James Gourley

RAFA Nadal has hit out at the Australian Open official Dunlop balls that will be used at the 2023 event.

Nadal said they were a “worse quality without a doubt” compared to 2022.

The Spaniard has used the new 2023 ball in buildup matches over the last 10 days – and he is not happy.

“The speed of the court I think (is) not big difference. The ball, yes. I don’t know,” he told media on Saturday.

“They say (it) is the same, but the ball is worse quality, without a doubt. We can’t talk about that any more. It’s what we have. We need to play with it.

“I think it’s a ball that doesn’t get the same spin as usual. After a couple of hits, the ball loses the pressure. It’s more difficult to hit with the right spin. But I think it’s easier to play when you play flatter on the shots.”

World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz is the new face Calvin Klein.

WORLD No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz left little to the imagination when he launched the new Calvin Kelin underwear last week.

Calvin’s have featured many sports stars and singers, including Belgian soccer star Romelu Lukaku and singer-songwriter Maya Hawke, but Alcaraz is the new star, after his US Open triumph last September.

“A record-breaking global sports phenomenon, Carlos is captured in a series of raw, stripped-back portraits and videos shot by Gray Sorrenti,” the press release said.

“The powerful black and white visuals highlight Carlos’s strength and confidence and recall the innate sensuality the brand is known for.”

He is also seen in select styles from the new Calvin Klein 1996 Underwear collection, which launches next week.

Alcaraz has posed for a series of images to launch the campaign and marks a massive step up in his marketability.

“I tell everyone I don’t consider myself to be famous. When I get recognised, I take it in stride,” he said.

NOVAK Djokovic, Ons Jabeur and six other players will form the first executive committee of the controversial Professional Tennis Players Association.

The organisation, which was first unveiled in 2020 by Djokovic and divided the sport, says it wants to increase the power of the players, taking it away from the current bodies – the ATP and WTA.

Co-founder Vasek Pospisil will also be on the first executive committee.

Others include Hubert Hurkacz and Paula Badosa, Americans John Isner and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, plus China’s Zheng Saisai.

Djokovic said he believed the new organisation and ATP could co-exist, saying it wants to give players a greater voice on “various matters”.

Garbine Muguruza and Iga Swiatek practise together in Melbourtne on Friday.

STAYING with Djokovic, Melbourne spectators have been warned they’ll be kicked out if they target him with boos this week.

Any heckling and they could be booted out of the Open.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told the Melbourne Herald Sun: “If they disrupt the enjoyment of anyone else – boom, they are out.

Novak Djokovic with his Adelaide International trophy.

“We don’t want them on site. They can stay away or we will kick them out.”

The Serb is back in the country after being deported last year for not being vaccinated against Covid-19. He still isn’t.

A 45 per cent tax take will see Australian Open winnings falling behind several other events in 2023, even after APO officials increased the prize pool by 3.5 per cent.

Organisers announced last month that a record A$76,500,000 prize pool will be on offer at Melbourne Park – more than the A$74m on offer last year.

But current exchange rates means the A$76.5m is worth only US$52.6m, while last year’s US Open prize pool was US$56m.

This year’s Australian Open men’s and women’s singles winners will receive A$2,975,000 (about US$2,06m) and runners-up A$1,625,000 (US$1,13m).

Last year’s US Open winners received US$3m and the Wimbledon winners $2.9m.

Prize money is also taxed at 45 per cent above A$180,000.

“At the Australian Open we’ve upped prize money for every round from qualifying, through to the finals, with the major increases in the early rounds, AO tournament director Craig Tiley said.

Ons Jabeur is congratulated by Ajla Tomlanovic after her quarter-final in New Yiork in September. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

AJLA Tomljanovic ended any real Australian women’s challenge when she withdrew from the Australian Open on Saturday with a knee injury.

Tomljanovic had previously pulled out of the United Cup with the same injury, so the news came as no surprise to those in the know.

“I’m sorry” she posted on Twitter.

“It absolutely pains me to have to write this message but unfortunately I won’t be able to compete at this year’s Australian Open.

“It’s been a very tough decision to make but I have to listen to my body.”

AND finally …

Games to watch on Day One in Melbourne.

Emma Raducanu vs Tamara Korpatsch

Aryna Sabalenka vs Tereza Martincova

Andy Murray vs Matteo Berrettini

Andrey Rublev vs Dominic Thiem