Former world No. 1 Mats Wilander dismissed claims that Nick Kyrgios is a “villain” and predicted the controversial Australian may win a major championship. During his tumultuous five-set struggle with Britain’s Paul Jubb in the Wimbledon first round, Kyrgios got into altercations with a spectator and a line judge.
He admitted to spitting at the “disrespecting” member of the crowd, calling a line judge “a snitch” and questioning the eyesight of the umpire. However, Wilander supported the 27-year-old, who has made the quarter-finals at The Championships and the US Open, to reach the top.
“I don’t think he is a villain at all”- Mats Wilander on Nick Kyrgios
In an interview, Wilander said, “My take on Nick Kyrgios is that I am happy that he is here at Wimbledon. I am happy that he wins five-set matches; that he is trying that hard. To me, he looked really good against Jubb. Of course, he played a Brit, so obviously, the crowd is going to be a little bit louder and be cheering for the Brit than Kyrgios. It was an emotional game, and I love seeing Kyrgios really focused.”
“I don’t think he is a villain at all. I really enjoy watching him play. When he tries hard, he is one of the best players in the world; most probably he still has his best tennis ahead of him. I still feel that he has a big shot at winning a big tournament, especially on the grass at Wimbledon,” Mats Wilander reiterated.
The Eurosport analyst added, “I don’t think he’s a villain; I think he’s a really nice guy and he is entertaining the crowd. I think it [his emotional on-court displays] is just him; some players get upset, some players get nervous. I’m not sure what he’s feeling on the inside, but he cares about winning tennis matches and I think that is why he is so emotional at times, but it is fun to watch, and he is a crowd favourite wherever he goes.”