A Fear of Failure?

Posted on August 14 2018

Trying to understand the inner workings of Nick Kyrigos’ mind is almost akin to understanding quantum physics. Here you have a man with all the talent in the world, the perfect time to propel himself to the top of the game, and yet, Kyrigos revels in mediocrity and childish drama. Everyone in the tennis world is waiting for the penny to drop, for Kyrigos to realise that with a slight change in attitude, everything is for the taking. Like a runway a train though, Kygrios continues upon his path, collecting fines, picking Twitter fights, and losing to people with half his ability


Many people ascribe Kygrios’ inability to reach his potential to immaturity, ‘he just needs time to grow up,’ ‘eventually, he will figure things out are cliches you often here. Indeed this was the case with many a top player, think Andy Murray and Roger Federer, but with Kygrios, you don’t feel things are about to change any time soon. At 23, Kygrios is clearly not a kid anymore, so why does he persist with such childish behaviour? Perhaps in order to understand childish behaviour in Kygrios, we need to understand why children often act up on the tennis court.



For many, whether they recognise it or not, tennis is an art form, an expression of self, and with expression comes emotion. Often you will see the most rotten child on the tennis court is timid and perfectly well behaved off the court, and you wonder how is this the same kid? Learning to control your emotions in a high pressure environment when the outcome means everything to you is a very difficult process, but eventually kids figure out that if they can control their emotions, they’re going to find they’re better able to express their talents, and consequently they’re going to win more. Nick Kygrios knows this; he isn’t stupid. Yet still he chooses to let his emotions get the better of him. It seems unlikely, at the age of 23 that this is the main issue holding Kygrios back.





When you watch many of the most talented kids play tennis, you see a great sense of frustration in them. They have so many options that they often find themselves making the wrong decisions. They know that on their day they can hit any shot, but not every day is going to be their day, and rather than going to plan B, they explode. This really is the quintessential Nick Kygrios move; time and time again, when things aren’t going his way, he resorts to the same old antics. While he is certainly one of the most talented, why is it that Kygrios is one of the few that can’t seem to overcome it?



Perhaps the answer is that he doesn't want to overcome his issues. All the adverse attention Kygrios receives deflects from the main problem, that he simply isn’t living up to his potential. In junior tennis, as in life, you often see people who are scared of failure, it’s easier to handle a loss when you know you haven’t given your very best than face up to the fact that someone was simply better than you. Deep down, Kygrios must know that success for him should be measured in Grand Slam titles, but equally, there must be a nagging doubt, the ‘what if I give my everything and don’t quite make it?’


It feels like at the moment, Kygrios is more comfortable as the talented maverick who could have been great than risk being the guy who was almost great but wasn’t quite good enough. There have been hundreds of talented mavericks in the past years who didn’t fulfill their potential, there are plenty who decided they didn’t want to die wondering and still failed. But there are a handful that decided failure was an acceptable risk to achieve their dreams. Kygrios still has time to choose which club he wants to be in, but time doesn’t wait for anybody.


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