A while back I penned a piece describing the loss that tennis and its fans will feel should Nick Kyrgios announce an early retirement, and while I still agree with the statement, maybe it is actually best for him to take some solid time off from the sport.
His 2021 campaign is over and he is currently in hotel quarantine as he looks to nurse a knee injury in hope that he will be fit in time for the 2022 Australian Summer that kicks off in January.
He has played a mere eight events this season, and is winless in his past five matches since Atlanta in July.
“Over the last couple months, I haven’t been near 100% healthy,” he said.
“I’ve been dealing with left knee patella tendinopathy, and continuing to play without fully treating it can lead to further pain and greater set backs.
“I’ve chosen to fly back to Australia to reassess and am planning to get platelet-rich plasma therapy treatment to settle down and rehab my knee.
“I’m disappointed as it has kept me from playing my best tennis and hopefully with everything going smoothly I will be back to 100 per cent by the Australian Open.”
Before the US Open Kyrgios hinted at possibly pulling the pin on his tennis career, and has sporadically done so again since, but with injuries causing further problems for the 26-year-old, extra time off could be a blessing in disguise.
I am talking about extra time off.
The injuries for the Canberra native are a constant, and over the years his dedication to recovery, stretching and rehabilitation has been severely questioned, so it might actually be beneficial for Kyrgios to enjoy some quality time at home in the ACT until well after the Australian Open.
The pandemic has been far from helpful for the former World No.13, who has missed a significant chunk of tennis throughout the past 24 months with the aforementioned injuries and unwillingness to travel throughout Covid times.
The talk surrounding Melbourne Park in January was that Kyrgios’ return to the tour was set to propel him back up the rankings and close to his career high World No.13, but events have transpired in the completely opposite way.
He finds himself ranked 97th, almost outside the top 100 and at the point where he will almost certainly have to rely on a wildcard to gain direct entry into the Australian Open, but why should he subject himself to this pressure straight away?
From the outside looking in, Kyrgios mentality seems as though he puts too much pressure on himself to be the crowd entertainer, and he does a great job at it, but that whole mantra might be his undoing.
That isn’t the focus of a player that has the talent to challenge the world’s best, and in fact to defeat them on a regular basis. He holds a rare head to head lead against World No.1 Novak Djokovic.
So when the Australian Summer rolls around and if the knee injury is healed, it might be wise for Kyrgios to continue to remove himself from the spotlight and focus on things away from tennis that fulfil his enjoyment.
Whether that be his NK Foundation, relaxing at the basketball courts, spending time on his PlayStation, spending more quality time with his friends and doing some soul searching.
The timeframe could be a quarter of a year, six months or even a full year in order to mentally refresh himself instead of going straight back to the rigours of the tour which seems to disagree with him.
This sabbatical could be exactly what he needs to rediscover his passion for tennis, if indeed there is any left in the tank.
The tennis world still needs Nick Kyrgios for what he brings to the sport, he is pure box office after all, but mentally some time away from the sport might just do him a world of good.
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