Genius or deceitful? Kyrgios’ underarm serves spark debate
Nick Kyrgios has the backing of Judy Murray while Mike Phelan, (yes, of Manchester United assistant fame) also addressed the underarm serve debate – but is it genius or deceitful?
Two underarm serves, including one with an ace, helped Kyrgios overcome Dusan Lajovic on Sunday night at the Miami Open – leaving social media to debate how underhand the underarm tactic is on Monday.
Judy Murray expressed her support for the serve, calling Kyrgios a “genius” and stating her surprise other players do not implement it more.
Murray tweeted: “The underarm serve. The whole point of tennis competition is to disrupt [your] opponent’s game by applying pressure through changing the speed, spin, direction, depth or height of the ball. And that includes the serve. Kyrgios is a genius. I’m surprised more players don’t do it.”
She added in another tweet: “Not many people understand genius or know what to do with it so they try to get genius to conform to something they do understand.
“Kyrgios has uncanny instinct [and] vision. He’s unpredictable [and] has phenomenal creativity [and] hand skills. Yes he’s mentally inconsistent but he’s a genius.”
Meanwhile, Phelan tweeted: “Risk, arrogance and audacity or creativity, genius and the hallmark of a winner? I’ll let you all decide.”
Kyrgios is not the first player to use the underarm serve, but he is evidently looking to adopt it more frequently, having done so last month in his marathon victory over Rafael Nadal in Acapulco.
It is a move which Kyrgios is well within his rights to perform, and the evidence proves it is worth using, particularly with players such as Nadal standing so far back behind the baseline.
But is not always viewed kindly upon, with Jared Donaldson facing jeers at last year’s French Open when trying the serve against Grigor Dimitrov.
The fact Kyrgios is shining a light on the underarm serve is arguably a reason in itself in terms of why it is a matter for debate - were Roger Federer or Nadal himself to use the serve, then perhaps it would be seen more favourably.
Kyrgios has proven to be pure box-office, a mesmerising player to watch for better or worse. One match could feature a highlight reel worthy of a whole season, and as many confrontations as another player would face in a year, too.
His most recent win over Lajovic proved no different; beyond the underarm serve there was a salute to the ball before smashing it, a no-look shot at the net, and a provocation with a fan who was eventually escorted away from the court.
“Did you get a free ticket? Why are you watching me on a Sunday night?” Kyrgios said.
“You got nothing else for you on a Sunday night? You got nothing else to do on a Sunday night?”
And after the match, Kyrgios did not shy away from discussing the incident with the supporter.
“At a change of ends he literally just said, ‘You’re a d***’,” Kyrgios said. “Then he was like, ‘Come here and say it’.
“He said I had a s**tty haircut. And you know what? I haven’t been to a barber shop in a couple of days, so he was pretty right.”
A fan was escorted away after verbals with KyrgiosGetty Images
He then told reporters: “Idiots like that in the crowd who have nothing better to do on a Sunday night than watch me play are talking to me as if they’re not interested in watching when they’ve literally got nothing else to do but sit there and watch me.
" I had a bit of fun with it. I knew that I was going to get him kicked out. I loved it, I loved every single bit of it. I think the crowd loved it."
“You’ve got guys like that I just don’t understand. When I go to a sporting event, an NBA event, I just sit there and admire the athletes and support them and watch them because I genuinely like being at an event. I don’t understand the talking.
“He’s probably stuck in traffic still. There’s probably traffic at his house, it’s probably rush hour.”