Nick Kyrgios is fast becoming the Ravel Morrison of tennis

By Alasdair Hooper

Nick Kyrgios and his controversial episodes have become the main focus of the 22-year-old’s short career.

For a sports fan it is ludicrously frustrating.

On Tuesday October 10 the Australian was roundly booed by the crowd at the Shanghai Masters as he quit his first-round match against Steve Johnson after losing the first set tie-break.

Kyrgios said he had a stomach bug yet the ATP fined him £7,573 for unsportsmanlike conduct and refused to allow him to collect his prize money.

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It’s by no means the first time as the Australian has a history of ‘tanking’ – deliberately not playing up to his abilities.

In June 2017 he admitted he had probably tanked at eight competitions in his career because he would ‘rather be doing something else than play tennis’.

Furthermore Kyrgios has also been fined for a variety of other misdemeanours such as verbally abusing spectators and insulting Stan Wawrinka.

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The talent the man from Canberra possesses is unquestionable – some of the shots he can pull off are truly outstanding.

But as the controversies continue to swirl it has made one thing very clear: Kyrgios is quite simply the Ravel Morrison of tennis.

For those not in the know Morrison was one of the brightest prospects in English football as he came through the Manchester United academy.

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“This guy was the best young kid that I’ve ever seen in my life,” former United defender Rio Ferdinand – who had seen his fair share of quality players – said back in 2016.

“[He was] better than Joe Cole was when he was a kid.

“Ravel Morrison, I’ve never seen a guy look so comfortable on a football pitch, but you can’t just have one of them without the other, you’ve got to have everything.”

Therein lies the problem – Morrison had more talent and ability than anyone could ever have dreamed of possessing.

But a series of run-ins with the law, off-pitch problems and a dreadful attitude meant he would never fulfil his potential.

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Sir Alex Ferguson – the great Manchester United manager – wrote in his book Leading: “Sadly, there are examples of players who have similar backgrounds to [Ryan] Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo, who, despite enormous talent, just aren’t emotionally or mentally strong enough to overcome the hurts of their childhood and their inner demons.

“Ravel Morrison might be the saddest case. He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed, but kept getting into trouble.

“It was very painful to sell him to West Ham in 2012 because he could have been a fantastic player.

“But, over a period of years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and we had little option but to cut the cord.”

Despite the odd piece of magic in a West Ham shirt – such as his wonder goal against Tottenham in 2013 – ultimately he failed again.

He then moved to Italian club Lazio in 2015, where he has hardly played, and is now on loan at Mexican side Atlas.

He is still only 24 years old.

Nick Kyrgios finds himself at a crucial point in his tennis career.

He can either put the work in and truly get the best out of his incredible ability or continue the way he is and become synonymous with wasted potential.

All this proves the point – talent doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have the right application or attitude.

Are we going to be talking about Kyrgios the champion – or just another Ravel Morrison?

 

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