Do You Have to Love Tennis to be a Champion?

The US Open first round match between Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios was nothing but bizarre, especially from the young Australian’s side of the court (what else is new). The match was full of incredible tennis mixed in with questionable shot selections (remember that tweener half volley fail) and even a few change-over naps.

Kyrgios seemed to oscillate between pure excitement and pure boredom. Match commentators picked up on this unsettling range of emotion and even brought up one of Kyrgios’s more subtly shocking thoughts of the summer:

“I don’t really like the sport of tennis that much. I don’t love it.”

At face value, it seems absurd that such a talented tennis player playing in the coveted night match on Arthur Ashe stadium could ever have gone on the record and say that he hates the sport that he’s making a name for himself in.

When we think about it though, this sentiment is nothing new. Here are just a few tennis champions that have voiced the same feelings:

“I mean, I don’t love tennis today, but I’m here, and I can’t live without it.”

-Serena Williams 2012. And ICYMI, she’s looking to capture her 22nd Grand Slam title and a calendar year Grand Slam at the 2015 US Open.

“I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have.”

– Andre Agassi, Open, 2009. Considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Professional tennis is grueling. All professional sports are grueling, but tennis is unique. On top of the physically and mentally demanding schedule, it is lonely. You can only rely on only yourself when you step out onto the court. But while these tennis legends and rising stars voice their weakened passion for the sport, they found a way to dig deep and find the will to win. They found a way to still be tennis greats.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. While this is an age old cliche, it is very true, especially for professional athletes. The road to tennis success is not easy, and Kyrgios is realizing this. The question now becomes, will Kyrgios strengthen his mental toughness, find his own will to win, and follow up on his latest tweet?

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What do you think?



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