Andre Agassi reacts to Nine host’s Nick Kyrgios ‘wasted talent’ swipe

Nick Kyrgios might not be playing at the Australian Open, but the Aussie star is never too far from the headlines.

The often divisive 28-year-old has played just one competitive match since the beginning of 2023 — a straight sets loss against China’s Yibing Wu in Stuttgart, which was hardly surprising as he battled a serious knee injury.

While Kyrgios hasn’t been able to get back on court, there is no doubt that Aussie still has a greater pulling power than many other stars who will be playing over the next fortnight at Melbourne Park.

Kyrgios will trade centre court — or the rowdy John Cain Arena — for an airconditioned commentary booth for the likes of Eurosport, Discovery+ and ESPN over the next fortnight.

But even though he made the 2022 Wimbledon final — the first time since Lleyton Hewitt in 2004 that an Australian man had made a grand slam final — it seems that nothing short of lifting one of the four majors will make Kyrgios anything but a wasted talent in some people’s eyes.

In an interview on Nine’s Australian Open coverage, TV host Tony Jones asked eight-time grand slam winner — including four times at Melbourne Park — Andre Agassi about how he sees Australian tennis.

Currently, there are no Australian women in the top 100, while in the mens there are nine in the top 100 with the likes of: No. 10 Alex de Minaur, No. 43 Alexei Popyrin, No. 45 Max Purcell, No. 47 Jordan Thompson, No. 63 Aleksandar Vukic, No. 68 Thanasi Kokkinakis, No. 70 Rinky Hijikata, No. 71 Chris O’Connell and No. 96 James Duckworth.

But while Jones brushed over de Minaur finally cracking the top 10 players in the world, he asked if Kyrgios was “a wasted talent”.

“First of all, in relation to Alex de Minaur, when I watch him play, I just want to feel that way for five minutes a day,” Agassi said.

“The energy and the passion, that guy embodies the Australian spirit as good as anybody ever has.”

As for Nick?

“Unfortunately we think we know more about people than we do,” Agassi continued.

“We never really know what is going on in their head and in their heart. I played a lot of years in this game where I was very disconnected with my own sense of purpose when I was out there.

“One thing I’ll say about Nick, from the outside you definitely get what he’s feeling regardless of what it is.

“He (has) definitely exposed the fact, his honesty with the game, or maybe his lack of desire, which hopefully gives him a chance to heal and hopefully tennis will benefit from him figuring out how to bring that talent back for our enjoyment.”

Agassi has been public on his own demons through his career, admitting in 2017 he endured his own “long, painful process” before emerging as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Kyrgios has been public on his mental health battles in recent year, admitting to self harm during several low points in his career.

But for Kyrgios, another fight has long been battling with his lack of enjoyment of tennis.

With one of the best serves in the game and power few others possess, fans have been left frustrated that Kyrgios hasn’t broken through with grand slam wins — even though it hadn’t been the driving factor behind Kyrgios playing.

Speaking on comedian Trevor Noah’s podcast What Now?, Kyrgios said he was never into sport until he got into it.

“I never liked sport that much growing up,” Kyrgios began.

“And then my mum saw I was pretty chubby and I wasn’t active that much as a kid and she was like ‘let’s start doing some stuff’.

“She took me down to the local tennis centre and fair to say I hated it, I didn’t like tennis at all.

“I fell in love with basketball and then played both, but I didn’t really have any role models either growing up in the sporting world. I was big into video games, took my studies seriously. (But) I fell in love with basketball players as I was playing tennis and they were two conflicting sports.

“I absolutely hated it (tennis). I just never felt like I could express myself in the way I wanted to and then I did later on in my career and really s**t-stir people.

“I didn’t grow up in a rich family or anything so I was very soon to realising it was a way to help my family, help my friends and provide for my people and build a life far beyond myself.

“That’s when I realised that was the journey I had to do because to say I would make it in the NBA, I don’t think I would. It was an easier route for me to make it out.”

Kyrgios broke through into the public conscious as a 19-year-old when he defeated Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of Wimbledon, which piled on the expectation, turning him into an instant star.

But he said he didn’t take himself seriously enough and when he saw his name up against the likes of legends like Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, his reaction was “what a joke, it’s all a joke”.

“I was just at school, I was just chilling, and then I started beating these players,” Kyrgios said.

“In a way it was good, but then it was not good because I lost a bit of respect because people idolise these people and I was like ‘I beat them at 18, 19’. I was like ‘if I can do it, anyone can do it’.

“And then it was the rat-race of ‘you should win grand slams’ and I was like ‘that was never my goal’. It was never my intention to go out there and be like Roger. It was to show that someone like me from a small town could go out there and compete and beat gods. I think it’s hilarious.”

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