Kyrgios faces Felix AA, a tennis saviour

·3-min read

Nick Kyrgios believes tennis is in desperate need of unconventional personalities and fresh stars to keep the sport alive - and he reckons his next Wimbledon opponent is one of those saviours.

Kyrgios, whose extraordinary comeback after a six-month lay-off is captivating this year's edition, will meet one of the bright young things of tennis Felix Auger-Aliassime in what promises to be must-see sporting theatre in Saturday's third round.

"Once Djokovic, Federer, Nadal all leave, this sport is going to be in dire need of personalities to take that torch," mused Kyrgios, who - love or hate him - is pure box office manna.

"You got so many players that are just going to bring so many people to the sport - Felix for instance. For me, he's going to have such a wide fan base that needs to be tapped into to keep this sport alive."

Of course, there's only one Kyrgios, as he demonstrated once again in his second round triumph on Thursday over Gianluca Mager, which featured his full array of barminess and brilliance.

We had him soliciting serving tips from the crowd and reducing them to giggles with his constant comical monologue about deathly slow courts and lucky opponents.

We got the odd swear word too in the heat of battle - for which he apologised - and a mid-match debate with an official about foot-faulting.

Yet amid it all, we also got the sort of sheer gasp-inducing magic that only the true one-offs of sport can provide.

Kyrgios understands that the tennis world needs all kinds of personalities from the artisan to the artistic, from the mechanics to the magicians, but he wants see his sport do more to save his own particular endangered species - the maverick.

"You have players now I love watching, like (the wholly unpredictable Kazakh Alexander) Bublik, you've got (American Frances) Tiafoe," he says.

"You've got these guys who are not conforming. They're making the sport awesome. I feel like tennis has to get behind these players.

"Yes, we've got (Andrey) Rublevs, (Alexander) Zverevs. They might take the mantle of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, but at the same time you need others.

"You look at any other sport, there's a wide range of players that are marketed. Look at the NBA, they market everyone. Like, tennis needs that.

"I think the tour knows they have some special people around. They have some people players, some young guys coming up that are just exciting to watch. We've got the potential to grow, for sure."

Auger-Aliassime is one of them, a brilliant performer from Quebec who's a NextGen gem.

And guess who he looks up to? "Nick's an amazing player," said 'FAA', recalling how he beat Kyrgios in their only meeting in the closest of tussles at Queen's Club when the Canadian was just 18.

"Nick is a great player, a great entertainer. I think he's good for tennis."

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