Can Nick Kyrgios' bad reputation be fixed? That's the question ABC's new show "Reputation Rehab" set out to answer. Hosts Kirsten Drysdale and Zoe Norton Lodge mix comedy skits, interviews and research results into the 30-minute episode.
Drysdale and Norton Lodge kicked things off by asking real people what they think of Kyrgios and the results were a blend of (bratty, controversial, crude, talented, rising star and one of the best).
Kyrgios then sat down for an interview in his backyard in Canberra to shed some light into why his image is the way it is.
"I think people just tend to think I just put my hand in a bucket and just pulled out pro tennis player," the six-time ATP champion said. "I definitely had to work for it. It wasn’t easy to get to this point in my life."
Kyrgios with Drysdale and Norton Lodge in his backyard. (ABC)
Tennis oftentimes is judged much harsher than team sports, because it's so traditional with players competing alone while cameras and microphones record every second.
He, and his mom Norlaila, who also sat for an interview, understandably do not like the "bad boy" label.
“I most definitely don't think I’m a bad boy," Kyrgios said. "I just be myself. But I think in general I'm pretty well behaved and well mannered. I try and be polite and be kind whenever I can."
Kyrgios is the focus of the first episode of the "Reputation Rehab" series. (ABC)
Norlaila Kyrgios thinks her son's image can be fixed.
"I think you can shake the image, but it takes time," she said. "It takes hard work to try and do good and one little mistake will put you back like many steps. That’s always the way it is isn’t it? But that’s our journey at the moment so we just embrace it."
The world No. 44 has done plenty of good, particularly this year with his efforts for Australian bushfire relief and in using his platform to call out the misbehavior of fellow ATP players during the pandemic. He hasn't competed since February.
The ABC hosts, however, think the problem truly lies within the media. While players try to brush off the online critics, their image is largely at the mercy of the headlines. Australian journalist Malcolm Knox agreed to be on the show and expressed regret over a story he'd written about Kyrgios in 2017, titled "Nick Kyrgios has shown zero regard for what we think of him—let's reciprocate". Knox even sends him an apology.
The most obvious solution ends up being the most difficult: win a Grand Slam. Since Australian culture is so deeply rooted in sports, they're quick to forgive a winner. So far, Kyrgios' best result at a major has been the quarterfinals, though only time will tell what he can achieve next.