A longtime Australian tennis powerbroker has come down hard on the intense dislike for clay displayed by Nick Kyrgios.
Paul McNamee, a two-time Wimbledon doubles champion who ran the Australian Open as TD for more than a decade, told Aussie media that the bad boy player’s lack of interest in competing on the dirt is “disappointing.”
Kyrgios has been something of a ghost presence on the ATP since the COVID pandemic began early last year, competing only at February’s Australian tennis summer before retreating back to base in Canberra and dropping from sight.
The move means that the No. 51 has not set foot on clay since May, 2019, in Rome, where he was defaulted on the surface after throwing a chair in anger in a match with Casper Ruud.
For McNamee, Kyrgios is letting his talent go to waste.
“I just see that as a shame that he’ll never feel that joy that I felt on it … the nuances [and] the unlimited options it gives you as a player,” McNamee said.
“It’s like playing chess, right. Nick has the ability to do that. He likes commanding the court, so that’s just disappointing and I think it hurts him now not playing as much on clay as he used to.
“He has expressed, very directly, his dislike for it. And unfortunately some disrespect for clay-court players.”
Mac, who tried a clay court at age 18 in the 1970s, remains unimpressed with the argument that only clay-bred Europeans can excel on the classic surface.
“It’s understanding all the nuances of the sport. If you don’t conquer that – it’s like an American golfer who never gets to understand links golf.
“The great Americans go there and conquer it. Because it’s a different form of the game, and it tests all manner of skills that are not tested on a hardcourt.
“It will only be to your benefit.
“You may not win Roland Garros, but you understand the game better and you’ll be more respected in Europe.”
Kyrgios is skipping the current spring season and is due to make a return to tennis on the summer grass.
He last played Roland Garros in 2017, winning his opening round.