“I Always Root for Him, No Matter Who He’s Playing”

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday September 3, 2022

Flushing Meadows, NY—Nick Kyrgios is a polarizing figure that inspires all kinds of feelings in tennis fans. There’s plenty of love, but also some hate.

Rising American Coco Gauff falls on the love side.

Asked what made Nick Kyrgios must-see tennis on Friday after her third-round victory over Madison Keys, the 18-year-old shed some light on a side of Kyrgios that fans don’t often see.

Overall I think he’s a nice person. At least he’s always been to me. I remember I first hit with him, he probably doesn’t remember this, I was 13 years old at Miami Open. He finished his practice, hit with me for, like, 30 minutes,” Gauff said. It’s just things like that that stand out for me. That’s why I feel like I can never dislike him because constantly when I see him around, he’s always saying hello.”

Kyrgios took time to hit with Gauff twice while in Miami, when the American was just a junior. She says the experience, and the Aussie’s kind words, helped her grow her self-belief.

“When I was 14 at the Miami Open again, he finished a two-hour practice, I think with Frances Tiafoe. I remember saying, ‘There’s no way he’s going to want to hit with me.’ [He had just been grinding] it out for two hours. He actually stayed and hit with me for an hour again.”

Gauff says the public isn’t always aware of the type of generous and kind soul Kyrgios is away from the match court. “It’s just moments like that that people don’t really see about him,” she said. “So I think people paint him as a bad guy. I feel around the grounds, at least in my experience with him, he’s not.

“I think in the end it helped me in the long run as a player hitting with him. He told me good things about my game. At that time I’m like, ‘Nick Kyrgios thinks I’m a good player.’ You start to believe that and gain confidence in that.”

Gauff says that Kyrgios has the talent to go all the way in New York. And she added that she’s supporting him all th eway. “If he keeps it up, I think he can go far,” she said. “He can win the tournament. We all know he has the ability to. He was close at Wimbledon. I always, always root for him, no matter who he’s playing, to be honest.”

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