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Nick Kyrgios gives no shits. And we love him for it.

Who cares what anyone else thinks? Not Nick Kyrgios, that’s for sure. And neither do I. He’s brash, emotional, and full of self-belief. And that’s what makes him so formidable.

Attitude. Brash. Colourful. Un-Australian.

I’m talking tennis, and you know who I’m talking about, don’t you? This is how he’s been described in any number of forums.

Attitude – check.

Brash – check.

Colourful – check.

Un-Australian – wrong.

nick kyrgios at the australian open
Nick Kyrgios, 19-year-old Australian tennis champion. Image via Getty.

Nick Kyrgios is very much the picture of modern Australia. Greek father, Malaysian mother, pierced ears, shaved head (and eyebrow) and the latest fluoro gear that leaves no doubt he is of the selfie generation. No need to wait for others to believe, no need to wait for approval … “here I am, like it or not.”

I like it. I’m sure I’m not alone. I know I’m not alone – he’s a teenager with 106,000 followers on Twitter. That’s five times more than Lleyton Hewitt who’s been playing since last century.

But he has some way to go to challenge Roger Federer’s [Currently male world number two] 2.6 million, or Novak Djokovic’s 3.8 million [The Serbian is currently the male world number one]. And he’s a stratosphere away from Serena’s  [Williams, currently female world number one] 4.5 million.Give him time.

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Female tennis champ plays the game of her life. Is asked about her outfit.

But there are others not so enamoured with the young Aussie who wouldn’t look out of place in an American rapper’s video hits. Apparently its the expletives some people don’t like. He says himself he’s an “emotional” player who’s still learning to control his outbursts. He knows how to place a ball with absolute precision, his frequent outrage is a little more wayward.

nick kyrgios at the australian open
“There are others not so enamoured with the young Aussie who wouldn’t look out of place in an American rapper’s video hits.” Image via Getty.

Don’t get up to leave while #NKRising is on court. Don’t be caught on your phone while he’s preparing to play a point. He’s got a bit of the Serenas and the [John] McEnroes about him. But let’s face it, it never hurt their games. [McEnroe was called a “Superbrat” and known for his confrontational on-court behaviour].

McEnroe finished with four US Open titles and three Wimbledon crowns. Serena looks on target to win her sixth Australian Open to go with the five she already has plus the five Wimbledon titles, six US Open titles and her pair from the French Open.

That’s not to say you need an expletive-filled rant and an ability to smash racquets to be a champion player. Steffi Graf and Roger Federer could be the patrons of pro-tennis finishing school with their on-court chic and 39 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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What it shows is that tennis is made up of all sorts.

There are the worriers who carry the world on their shoulders – Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray; the eccentric entertainers in the mould of Novak Djokovic; and the colourful, confident, “don’t give a damn what you think” players – Andre Agassi, Serena Williams and Nick Kyrgios.

nick kyrgios at the australian open
“That’s not to say you need an expletive-filled rant and an ability to smash racquets to be a champion player.” Image via Getty.

One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a champion athlete is managing the many elements that need to come together like the instruments of an orchestra. Talent, style and personality have to gel with the demands of managers, coaches, fans and those harshest critics of all, those men and women with magnifying glasses that scrutinise your every move for the rest of your playing days – the media.

There’s nothing the media in Australia loves more than a humble sports star. The problem is humility and domination are very odd bedfellows. Athletes want to win. They do not play to be also rans. They do not play to be second best. Humility eats away at the all conquering attitude required to be a champion.

Teen tennis star says she ‘deserved’ to be hit by her father for losing match.

Inevitably what happens is the overwhelming self belief is trained to disguise itself in niceties. Again, Federer is the player with a distinction in “professional humility”. The sort of humility that allows him to say “I was awesome tonight” and have those listening think he’s complimenting his opponent and playing down his own obvious superior abilities. Federer is as cut throat as the rest of them, he’s just a master of disguise. Federer has them eating out of his hand, all the while feeding them scraps.

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nick kyrgios at the australian open
“There’s nothing the media in Australia loves more than a humble sports star. The problem is humility and domination are very odd bedfellows.” Image via Getty.

But back to the man of the moment. It’s Kyrgios’s self belief that would have kept his opponent Andy Murray from having a peaceful sleep last night. Murray [from Scotland, currently ranked 6th in the world and a gold medallist at the 2012 Olympics, making him the first British singles champion in over 100 years] even dedicated an entire column to Kyrgios in yesterday’s Fairfax papers. He mentioned the young Australian’s claim that he thought he could win the Australian Open. It caused Murray to recall all those demons that had him favoured to win Wimbledon every year for a decade before it finally happened.

There’s one big difference between Kyrgios and Murray though. It took Murray a decade to believe he could win, Kyrgios already believes. That belief carries a massive weight, the weight of a nation, all completely self inflicted. Kyrgios enjoys the pressure. His most astute opponents have already realised he thrives on the big moments and the showcase courts. But is he ready?

The tennis player who left 1.4 million bucks just lying on a court.

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The one weapon missing from Kyrgios’s arsenal is experience. Others have worn their footprints into the Rod Laver Arena baseline for many years. They, too, feel right at home. But on other occasions when the crowd may have been on their side, tonight will be different. They’ll be playing Kyrgios and a stadium overwhelmingly playing every shot with him. If Kyrgios can harness the nervous energy of almost 15,000 people and make it his own, he’ll be hard to beat.

nick kyrgios at the australian open
“There’s one big difference between Kyrgios and Murray though. It took Murray a decade to believe he could win, Kyrgios already believes.” Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios shaking hands. Image via Getty.

Much has already been made of him being a “teenager” reaching the quarter finals of a tennis major. That is hardly an earth shattering achievement. Evonne Goolagong  [Australian former World number one]  won the French Open as a 19-year-old in 1971. Boris Becker won Wimbledon at 17. Other teenagers who have won majors before include names like Edberg, Sampras, Nadal, Evert, Graf, Seles and Serena amongst others.

Being 19 years old and playing in tonight’s quarter finals of the Australian Open is not a big deal. Living up to his own expectation, and delivering what he believes he’s capable of, is. This is Kyrgios’ moment. It’s in his hands tonight to turn his potential into his reality.

And who gives a damn what anyone else thinks? Not Kyrgios, that’s for sure.

This article originally appeared on ABC and has been republished with full permission.