'We desperately need to see that' – John McEnroe backs Nick Kyrgios call to push new personalities
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated tennis for almost two decades, winning a ridiculous 60 Grand Slam titles between them. But is it time for new faces to be promoted as the trio’s powers start to wane? That was the question posed to John McEnroe after comments from Nick Kyrgios, who said the sport had not done enough to push the current generation of stars.
'I completely agree with Nick' - McEnroe on Kyrgios views about tennis needing more personalities
John McEnroe has stressed the importance of tennis finding new personalities as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer enjoy the twilight of their careers.
The American seven-time major champion was responding to Nick Kyrgios’ claim that the sport is too transfixed with the ‘Big Three’ and has not done enough to promote new stars.
Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have won 60 Grand Slam singles titles between them – incredibly all tied on 20 each. Since Federer won his first in 2003, the trio have failed to triumph at just 12 of the last 72 majors.
Kyrgios is undoubtedly one of the biggest characters on tour and has found an unlikely home of the doubles court at the Australian Open, teaming up with compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis and reaching the semi-finals.
And McEnroe believes that while it is understandable the biggest names have grabbed the attention in recent years, the time is right to start pushing new faces.
“I’ve been talking about the need in tennis for personalities. You need to have a rooting interest in someone. Whether you think he’s the bad guy, some people think Djokovic is Darth Vader. Everyone loves Roger Federer,” McEnroe told Eurosport.
“It’s not like it is in team sports where you can root for your city or your country, so this idea of expressing yourself and showing personality is very important.
'Tennis has done a really poor job embracing personalities' - Kyrgios
“It would be pretty hard on the other hand not to focus the last 10-15 years on those three guys. What they’ve done is beyond belief, out of this world. Winning 20 majors each. I used to think I had seven, that’s pretty good. Well it doesn’t look so good now.
“This is an amazing thing. We’re looking at these legends that are playing at the same time and doing things that are absolutely extraordinary, but at the same time I do think tennis needs to look around for other guys because the future is now.
“These guys aren’t going to be doing it forever and we desperately need to see that. I completely agree with Nick on that and I’m hopeful that he will be one of the guys that we will be able to focus on… if he can go out and consistently give the type of effort necessary to win majors.
“In the meantime, Medvedev, I love the way he is on the court, he’s a personality in a different way. He’s like a chess master. So there’s ways we can work on that and absolutely need to.”
McEnroe is hoping Kyrgios and Kokkinakis can win the trophy, suggesting it could provide the impetus for the former to have a renewed crack at a singles career.
“I hope that Nick uses this experience in the doubles in a similar way I used the experiences I had in doubles. I feel like it can make you a better singles player,” he said.
“There’s no question he’s a crowd pleaser, that goes without saying. I would love to see Nick give that type of effort on the singles court more consistently.
“He’s a great team player, I’ve had him on Laver Cup all four years, he loves to be part of a team, it’s natural for him to be good in doubles.
“Kokkinakis was one of the practice players for my team as well, he’s a great kid, he’s been unlucky with injuries. So I hope they win the whole thing.
“I think it would be great for both of them, maybe inspire them to work even harder and do something even bigger on a singles court.
“Given the excitement that it’s bringing the doubles event, and the smiles I see from Nick and Thanasi on the court, I hope it just inspires them to want it even more, work harder and stay around longer.”
Kyrgios has never progressed beyond the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam, but fell to a brave four-set defeat to second seed Daniil Medvedev in the second round in Melbourne as he showed flashes of brilliance.
Highlights: Kyrgios and Kokkinakis power into semi-finals with latest doubles win
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