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THE KYGRIOS DELAY



We’re quick to forget the pains and hassles that comes with flying, but after a few years with limited travel, the world has re-opened and as fortunate as we are to be traveling again, I think there are some aspects we haven’t missed.


Whether it be the never ending immigration ques, the metal detectors that keep going off, no matter how many times you empty your pockets, or the long anxious wait at the baggage carrousel where you wonder if today’s the day you’re the unlucky one whose bag has gotten lost.


However without a doubt, the worst part of flying are the delays. You rush to the gate thinking you’re going to miss the final boarding call, only to look up at the gate screens to be greeted by “DELAYED” flashing in bright yellow text.


The frustration sets in, suddenly a 20 minute delay turns into 40 and quickly it becomes apparent the extra cardio you got in rushing to the gate was pointless as the plane may never take off.


Australian sports fans, more specifically Australian tennis fans, have been dealing with a delay of their own, but this one hasn’t been a 20 minute one, or couple of hours, instead it’s been a delay well over five years.


On the 2nd July 2014, Australians around the country were waking up to the news that a 19-year-old, baby faced Nick Kyrgios had taken down the world number 1, Rafael Nadal in four sets at Wimbledon to reach the quarter finals.


It’s not uncommon for sport to be water cooler topic of the day in Australia, however this reached a whole new level where every man and his dog was talking about it. Suddenly Kyrgios had become a house hold name across the nation.


Overnight he went from a relatively unheard of wildcard entry to Australia’s next great hope. While it’s a lot of pressure to place on a 19-year-old, Kyrgios did just have the audacity to play a between the legs shot against one of the greatest players of all time.


The following year the Kyrgios bandwagon rolled on with more fans jumping onboard as he made his way into the Australian Open quarters. A straight sets defeat to Andy Murry halted momentum, but now that the home fans had seen Kyrgios with their own eyes, expectations were as high as ever.


Sure, we weren’t expecting great things right away, that being said, like it or not, Kyrgios was now ‘the chosen one’ when it came to Australian men’s tennis. He was destined to become the first Australian male since 2002 to win a Grand Slam title, and after two quarter final appearances at majors, suddenly it had become a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Kyrgios would win a major.


Much like, seemingly every flight, the Kyrgios trophy parade was delayed, as each major tournament would come and go and his supporters were left wanting more and as always, impatient sports fans became sick of waiting.


Soon he was no longer a promising 19 year old, but more a disappointing 20 something that failed to live up to the hype, and while there were some successful runs at the minor tournaments, we were promised major trophies, leaving many to jump off the Kyrgios plane.


While some stuck around for the many different haircuts/ colours, the “slipped” water bottle, the various tantrums and the many broken rackets, hoping that one day it would all come together and that powerful serve mixed with a daring game style would lead to a magical run at one of the majors.


However the Kyrgios plane was again delayed and for several years this time as most tournaments led to the Aussie getting knocked out in the third or fourth rounds.


After a promising 2020 Australian open it felt it might finally be time to board the plane, well for those that had stuck around at the gate for the six year delay, but really at this stage most people had gone home and cancelled their holiday.


But just as boarding had begun, Covid-19 had wiped out the rest of the year for Kyrgios and yet again, we were set for another delay.


Another disappointing 2021 which saw Kyrgios blow a two set lead to Dominic Thiem in the third round of the Australian open and injury cutting short his Wimbledon campaign, it’s fair to say most had given up on the Australian.


Fast forward to the 2022 Australian open and while Kyrgios put up a fight, his best simply couldn’t cut it with Daniil Medvedev, who saw out the Aussie in four sets to send him out in the second round. While the singles result was disappointing, it was the doubles where Kyrgios finally started to win back the fans.


Partnering up with fellow Australian, Thanasi Kokkinakis, the expectations weren’t sky high for the duo, but quickly through their on-court chemistry and antics, they had the 5,000 seat Kia Arena rocking, giving fans an up close and personal experience, much like when a famous musician performs a gig in a small venue.


Suddenly it became the place to be during the open, not a seat was left empty to watch the pair go through to the final. While fan demand grew so much they had to leave the intimate setting of Kia arena, the pair keep rolling on and took home the trophy.


Sure it wasn’t the grand slam singles title we were hoping for, however it was something. But the most important thing, and what really won Kyrgios his fans back, was that you could see he had rediscovered his love for the game.


Having skipped the French open, no one really knew what to expect at Wimbledon, a five set victory in the first round wasn’t encouraging but what followed was some of the best couple of weeks of Kyrgios career to date.


Taking out the fourth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round, the pathway to the final was set. Sure at times it looked like poor discipline or injury was going to cut the dream run short, but after Nadal pulled out of the semi-final, Kyrgios had finally made it to a grand slam final.


For the first time in a long, long time, it felt like the Kyrgios plane was ready to set flight, and after taking out the first set against Novak Djokovic it felt like today was going to be the day.


Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be, dropping the next three sets and the match, the delay had kicked in again. But this time we actually got on the runway, there were signs that the plane could one day, take off, and with the U.S open around the corner, it wasn’t unimaginable for Kyrgios to keep a hold of this momentum.


After a few encouraging performances in some minor tournaments in the build-up, for the first time in what felt like forever, there actually were some expectations for Kyrgios heading into a major. Suddenly a third-fourth round exit wasn’t going to cut it.


Going up against his doubles partner, Kokkinakis, first up was always going to be a tough watch, but as expected Kyrgios made it through with relative ease, looking like he was still riding the same wave of momentum that saw him through Wimbledon.


The next two rounds were smooth sailing, however a fourth round match up with Medvedev seemed like a real cross road. Win and the genuine case could be made for Kyrgios to be the favourite, lose and yet again we would be left wanting more.


Four sets later Kyrgios was through to the quarters where the pathway was set. With no Djokovic this time, it felt like the Kyrgios delay was about to be over and despite some quality players remaining, he was being pencilled in as the champion.


A five set thriller and two smashed rackets later in the quarter finals, saw Karen Khachanov prevail over Kyrgios. In heartbreaking fashion, the delay would continue.


At times Nick Kyrgios’s career has looked like it was set to take off and saw, much like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, yet in reality it’s left us feeling like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Sure at times there a little wins where it looks like we may finally be going somewhere, but in reality we’re still stuck on the tarmac in yet another delay.


We’re quick to forget though that Kyrgios is only 27, there is still ample opportunity for that major trophy to be won. By no means is this flight cancelled, but after years of delays and waiting around, Australian tennis fans can’t help but run out of patience.


With Kyrgios in career best form, I’m holding out, hoping that ultimately this delay will be over. Eventually, if the day does come, I will be there when the destination is reached, and much like when you finally land after a long flight, it will be a sweet but relieving feeling.

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