The Weekend Post : 2019-01-12

Sport : 50 : 50

Sport

SPORT 50 SATURDAY JANUARY 12 2019 CAIRNSPOST.COM.AU SUMMER OF It’s time to give Nick his space SAM GROTH IT’S time we all laid off Nick Kyrgios. We need a new approach. Every year it’s the same thing. Hopes and expectations are piled up and then it all comes crashing down when he doesn’t meet them. Australia hasn’t had a male grand slam champion since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001. We have always had someone at the top. We’re accustomed to it and we don’t cope well when that’s not the case. We – Australia – demand that we are always at the top of our game and right now we don’t have that in men’s tennis. So, in the absence of a champion story, we have developed an obsession with piling expectations on the next best thing whether they’re ready for it or not. Nick beat the top four at a young age and now, in the public’s eyes, must win everything, behave perfectly and always do the right thing. He’s shown time and again it’s not going to happen, that he’s doing things his way and that isn’t going to change. Right now he is buckling under the weight of expectation thrust upon him age 18 by an audience who, for the most part, are tennis fans for two weeks of the year. The fact a 23-year old revealed his struggles should be praised not criticised. He isn’t hiding his struggles; he wants people to know how he is and how he feels. We have to respond to this better than we are. You can’t expect someone to say in November I need help and magically be better a few weeks later. The tour is a lonely place and we need to do more to help our athletes prepare for what happens on tour and what happens afterwards. Look at what happened with Todd Reid. We need to learn from things like this. So let’s start by laying off Nick, take the pressure off and show some compassion. Maybe if we get around him he could go on to be the champion we hope he can be. Twitter reaction KEY NUMBERS OF ANDY MURRAY’S CAREER 1 41 3 11 45 2 9 2 11 First British singles player to be world No.1 Number of weeks on top of the rankings Grand slam titles Won all of his 11 rubbers to drive Great Britain to the Davis Cup in 2015, an unprecedented feat Tour-level matches won career prizemoney Only person to be BBC Sports Personality of the Year three times Aces served DARREN CAHILL: “When you search for examples of ‘emptied the bucket to be as good as they could be’ there should be a picture of Andy Murray sitting under that quote. Remarkable discipline for training, competition, sacrifice, perfection, a little crazy but a legend of a bloke. Bravo Andy.” 663 $85m 3 5573 29 Grand slam finals Career singles titles 2011 US OPEN CHAMPION SAMANTHA STOSUR: Doubles titles, both with brother Jamie Singles titles in 2016, including five in a row to end the season as world No.1 Olympic singles gold medals “He’s been a fantastic player, champion. I mean, he’s been a massive advocate for women’s tennis and women’s sport in general. I know in the locker room whenever we hear him kinda stick up for us, we’re like, ‘Yeah, go Andy!’”. Combined wins against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic Kokkinakis books main draw spot Millman slams Aust Open ball in cold for a wildcard in favour of lower-ranked Australians Alexei Popyrin, Marc Polmans and Alex Bolt made qualifying sweeter, he said: “Yeah, it does, it does. I’ve definitely got a bit of a chip on my shoulder. “Now, looking back, I’m happy I didn’t get a wildcard. “I wish the guys that got the wildcard all the best, but this really means a lot to me. “I’m just happy I’m in the main draw. “I stuck to my team and did it my way.” made it tough at the end there. But at the end of the day it was the same conditions ... and Gilles was better.” Dunlop has taken over from Wilson as ball supplier this Australian tennis summer. Tomic spoke out against the balls after using them at the Kooyong Open, saying “I don’t feel it is that good of a ball. I think they’re pretty cheap from what I’ve heard.” But others including fellow Australian star Ashleigh Barty have no problem with the balls. THANASI Kokkinakis has gatecrashed the Australian Open’s main draw, conceding he is spurred by “a bit of a chip” on his shoulder after being snubbed for a wildcard. Refusing to comment on speculation of a rift with Lleyton Hewitt, Kokkinakis downed Canadian Peter Polansky 6-4 6-4 to earn his main draw spot. “This is probably one of the most satisfying wins I’ve had in my career for a lot of reasons,” Kokkinakis said. JOHN Millman has joined Bernard Tomic in criticising the new balls to be used at the Australian Open. “(It was) really tough to generate (pace) with it cold out there, the balls are pretty dead,” said Millman after his tight Sydney International quarter-final loss to Gilles Simon which finished well after 1am on Friday following a wet night. “The balls are really s--when it gets like that, I figured out, so I’ve got to factor that in “I’m happy to do it the hard way. “A few things have been going on, but I’m really happy.” Asked if being overlooked for next week in Melbourne, just remember how bad the balls are in cold conditions like that. “Obviously it’s a new ball. It CCPE01Z01MA - V1

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