HE’S finally done it?
With so much promise, often corrupted by so much petulance, some had wondered if Aussie star Nick Kyrgios would ever fulfil his potential.
But, it appears he is on the road to superstardom, now rated a $2.05 chance with our friends over at Sportsbet.com.au to break into the world’s top 20 tennis rankings.
The odds come on the back of the 20 year old’s first ATP title in France.
Kyrgios swept to the Marseille Open title, knocking over the favoured Marin Cilic in a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) domination in the south of France.
It is just the tonic for a kid who has encountered controversy after controversy in the past 12 months, mostly of his own doing.
In Marseille, Kyrgios worked his way through Vasek Pospisil, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych and Cilic to take the title, going through his last 47 service games without being broken. Kyrgios blasted 72 aces for the tournament.
Three of those men have been ranked inside the top 10 at some point in their careers.
“I thought I backed up three days in a row with some really top quality tennis,” Kyrgios said.
“I haven’t played like that in a while.
“To come up with three straight wins against those players is pretty impressive.
“I think this week was probably the best serving of my career.
“It was constantly getting better and definitely got me out of pressure situations this week.
“It feels good.
“It’s something that I’d never done before.
“To come here and win my first title is a good feeling. Hopefully there are plenty more to come.
“I’m not surprised that I played well, but I am surprised I played at the level I was able to play at.
“I served really, really well.
“I was training hard back home and I was doing everything that I needed to be doing.”
It was the second time Kyrgios had made a tour final, after losing to Gasquet last year, but this time he went one better – and pocketed $165,000 for his troubles.
“I played my first final last year and was looking for my first title,” he said.
“But I didn’t really expect to win this title this week after having a couple of weeks off.
“But from the first round I started playing really well and just gained confidence as I kept winning matches.
“I think I served really, really well again.
“I was serving really well all week.
“I didn’t get broken once.
“That was the main thing that was good.
“And I was able to put pressure on my opponents’ serves a lot when I was going through my service games really quickly.”
Currently ranked number 33 in the world, Sportsbet has released a couple of markets on how Kyrgios will go this year.
The bookie is offering $18 for the Canberran to win any of the remaining Grand Slams this year while he’s $81 for the upcoming French Open.
He is rated a $1.95 chance to peak outside the top 20, but in the top 50.
It’s unlikely that he will find a place in the top 10, at $15, to top five, at $34, but those are for later years.
“Finally the boy’s turned good!” the bookie’s Will Byrne said.
“Just goes to show what he can do when he closes his mouth and concentrates on the game and we’re betting the Top 20 isn’t beyond his reach this year.”
And one of Australia’s greatest tennis players, Pat Rafter, says a top 20 ranking would be just the tip of the iceberg.
The two time US Open champion reckons Kyrgios is a future world number one in the making.
“Nick doesn’t play a lot of tournaments so he needs to get the ranking points along the way, but he’s a good enough player to make the points when he gets the opportunity,” Rafter said.
“He beat five very good players and beat them convincingly. The challenge is consistency, and that might come with maturity, but he will find that.
“Consistency will help him build points and towards a ranking that he’s after because he’s a potential No.1 player in the world so it’s about how he applies himself to do that.”
Rafter said Kyrgios should take time with finding a new coach, after he parted ways with Todd Larkham in the middle of last year.
“He needed to find what works for him and I think it’s good he hasn’t taken someone on this year.
“I think he needs to find out who the right coach is and who he wants to spend that time with because it’s not so much about coaching, it’s about managing the player emotionally.
“It’s a bit like a caddy in golf.
“Those guys are out there doing it in the heat of battle, and Nick has his own way of doing it.
“It’s hard to teach that.
“Nick has a knack of finding the right shot at the right time.
“Nick’s hard to coach because he’s so flamboyant and responsive to what’s in front of him.
“He’s got potential, but potential is only so much. You’ve got to do the work every day. It’s not time to get over-excited [after his Marseille win] but, in saying that, we’ve always said he’s a future No 1. That’s how good he is.”
And while he might have kept his mouth shut and his head on the job, Kyrgios still had no dramas biting back at a hater on social media.
The internet troll called his win “A fluke – you won’t win again. A minor tournament” on Facebook.
To which Kyrgios replied “Yep. Gasquet, Berdych and Cilic in straight sets back to back is a fluke and “minor”. See ya hater.”
The troll, Krista Lang, replied “Nick Kyrgios, you just don’t get it. I am a lover of tennis and I can see straight through you. You have not changed inside – just a facade. Yes, your game was a fluke.”
Kyrgios fired back: “I’m glad you can see straight through me, all I can see is deluded dribbling and bad grammar. Bye.”
He loves having a crack on social media, getting into a slanging match with Adelaide Crows AFL captain Taylor Walker and even having a blue with Rafter and Aussie swimming great Dawn Fraser.
The good news kept coming for Kyrgios, with the win also ending the six month suspended sentence hanging over his head after the disgusting comments to Stanislas Wawrinka last year. The 28 day ban for those words no longer hangs over his head.
This guy is is no shrinking violet and we expect to see him at and around the pinnacle of tennis for many years to come.
Whether the attitude stays is still up for contention, but let us hope he grows and matures into a determined young man who fulfils his full potential.
Nick Kyrgios markets
Kyrgios Peak Ranking this year
1 to 5 ($34)
6 to 10 ($15)
11 to 20 ($2.05)
21 to 50 ($1.95)
What is the furthest stage Kyrgios will get to in a grand slam this year?
Runner Up ($11)
Semi Finalist ($3.25)
Quarter Finalist ($2.80)
Last 16 ($3.60)
Last 32 ($9)
Grand Slam odds
French Open winner ($81)
Wimbledon winner ($31)
US Open winner ($41)
United States & Australian betting markets underpin Paddy Power growth
Aussie Joel Parkinson salutes at the Hawaiian Pro for second time
WSL: Hawaiian Pro day 2 highlighted by return of Payne and Ibelli
WSL: Triple Crown kicks off as Hawaiian Pro gets underway
Champion hoop Douglas Whyte closing in on magical mark
Surfing: Glatzer and Pinkerton take spoils at Pismo Beach Open
Surfing: Pismo Beach Open called on as youngster excels
Hong Kong racing still super competitive post Moreira