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Nick Kygrios at the Australian Open

Why tennis needs Nick Kyrgios (and why Australia needs to forgive him)

World tennis needs Nick Kyrgios - warts and all.

Because there is going to come a time, in the very near future, that we discover legends aren't immortal.

Roger Federer certainly seems like he could play forever, with comedy legend Will Ferrell jokingly asking him in a post-match interview at the Australian Open if was 'a witch or a vampire'.

Rafal Nadal perhaps looks more shaky, highlighted by his quarter final retirement. But he is also looking as fit as ever and that ability is showing no signs of fading.

But, fade they will. Someday soon, we face a tennis tour without Federer and Nadal.

The personality drain that Kyrgios can fill

Sheer athleticism, the marathon matches and the guts and glory is built into the DNA of tennis.

But there has always been something a little more to lure the punters through the gates.

Andre Agassi's flowing (but fake) mullet was almost as endearing as his cross-court speed. Lleyton Hewitt and his trademark 'come on' and never-ending supply of spirit. Even the cartoon villains like David Nalbandian brought colour and life to the sport.

But, for every character like Novak Djokovic, there has been a Yevgeny Kafelnikov. A clinical, stubborn Eastern European who grinded his way to world No.1 without care for how many friends he made along the way.

That is the future we are facing. When Federer, Nadal and the Djoker all retire, who is waiting in the wings?

For all their talent (and with all due respect), the likes of Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem are unlikely to attract a new, young audience. Kyrgios will.

It's time we forgive Kyrgios his sins

The last few years in Australian tennis have not been great, in the eyes of many.

For all their God-given talent, Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios have not impressed many with their antics.

But it is important to recognise a key distinction, they are not the same.

While Tomic has taken to his career with an axe and is unlikely to ever recover, Kyrgios is a young man finding his way in the world.

He has been suspended, fined, accused of tanking and - worst of all - accused of not caring.

But this all came at a time when he was a young man struggling to take on the fame saddled to his back.

Nick Kyrgios and Bella

Nick Kyrgios with cancer battler Bella and her family

For all his flair and forthright comments, there has been remarkable change.

In defeat to Dimitrov at the Australian Open, he met his opponent not with venom or tantrums, but with a warm hug born of respect.

Those floating around the practice courts noted that he spent more time than any other player signing autographs, shaking hands, respecting his fans.

Before the match with Dimitrov, he remarkably spent time playing tennis with nine-year-old cancer sufferer Bella.

So yeah, there are going to be times Kyrgios will swear. There are times the pressure is going to get to him.

But we can't bash that out of him. What we have here is not only a prodigious talent, but a good man with a big personality.

It's time we forgave him and embraced that personality. World tennis needs it.

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About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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