Rewriting the rules of the country club sport, the newest Evolve athlete has his sights set on Grand Slam glory and counter-culture appeal.
When the skeptics chirp, he hears all of it. And since showing up at Wimbledon in a pair of red Air Jordans, the polarizing player has crystallized where he stands as an individual.
“I always like to do things my way,” Kyrgios told Boardroom. “I don’t care too much for the status quo.”
Standing 6-foot-4 and built like a baller, Kyrgios does not look like his peers — nor does he care to. Across the court, none of his ATP rivals elicit the same sauce, either in style or in spirit.
Duguid, a tennis lifer who went from taking on Andy Murray as a teenager to representing Osaka as an adult, has seen it all in the sport. But even he has never seen anyone quite like the Aussie.
“I love tennis but I’m so burned out by watching it as a fan,” Duguid told Boardroom. “But I’d always watch Nick’s matches, even before he was a client. I have no idea what’s going to happen — good or bad — but I can’t take my eyes off of this.”
Heading into 2023 following a breakthrough year that saw him win the Australian Open doubles title and make the Wimbledon final in singles, the 27-year-old superstar and Evolve athlete is truly becoming his fully-formed self as a power player on and off the court.
Boardroom caught up with his management team to hear what’s next for the trash-talking tennis iconoclast.
To say Nick Kyrgios is not for everyone is incredibly accurate, yet oddly misleading.
The upper crust of country club culture tends to be appalled by his antics, yet enthralled by his passion. They can’t stand or support him — not publicly, anyway — yet they can’t look away.
“Kids and people outside of tennis? They love watching him,” Duguid says. “This guy is absolute box office.”
And on the court, Kyrgios is a man possessed. The fire that courses through him engulfs every screen he graces, making him a crossover star in a sport seen historically as guarded, or even insular.
His swag swerves toward that of a shooting guard, though a recent match made his agent compare his intensity to what you see in a slightly different sport.
“It was like a UFC fight,” Stuart says.
In an era governed by engagements and clicks, Kyrgios’s personality makes him a viral superstar even to those who don’t care for tennis, placing him in perhaps the rarest tier of all.
He is known to cuss out critics and hug old ladies. Often in the same set. The very next match, he’ll verbally obliterate an aloof attendee offering unsolicited advice before asking a different spectator where he ought to hit his next serve.
Somewhat Stone Cold Steve Austin and at times almost a bizarro Babe Ruth — not calling his shot, but asking you to do it — he’ll make good on both interactions and actually deliver. Rather than descending into caricature as a one-note aggressor, he’s ultimately enigmatic on-court, making him a must-follow on social media based on sheer curiosity alone.
So, outside of the painted lines of competition, what is Nick really like?
“Nick is awesome,” Stuart says. “I really, really love working with him. His best friend is a guy called Horse, who’s his manager who works with me, which is great.”
Keeping a small circle, Nick is simply a skilled showman with a massive heart. Professionally, he’s on track for another ascent as he’s already won 11 tournaments and surpassed over $12 million in career prize money while working his way back up the current global rankings.
“He’s long been one of the most talented tennis players in the world, and now he’s putting it together,” Stuart adds.
So, what’s the secret to his recent success?
Well, good luck finding that out.
“I asked him and he says, ‘I really don’t fucking know!'” Stuart laughs.
Looking deeper reveals that he’s much more like other uncommon athletes blessed with enormous potential than his inimitably charming brashness would suggest. While every player of his caliber puts in the work, there’s an added edge that only comes from almost actualizing the goal and suffering defeat.
“He played Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open, who was No. 1 in the world, and he lost in four sets,” Stuart recalls. “He thought he wasn’t quite fit enough so he got super fit because he didn’t want to lose to that guy again. Sure enough, he beat him in the US Open this year.”
Due to his extreme antics, fans and peers alike feel the need to tell Nick what to do. However, his manager at Evolve does not.
“People always ask, ‘How do you manage that guy?” Stuart says. “They say, ‘Nick needs a coach, Nick needs a therapist, he’s just going nuts during matches’. I’m like, ‘Fuck no!’ That would be career suicide with Nick.”
As an agent invested in Kyrgios’s career on the court, Stuart takes more of a Phil Jackson approach to his incandescent client.
“I much more see it as letting them be themselves and react accordingly,” Stuart says. “But sometimes there’s just stuff you can’t unsee. Even my parents will be like, ‘Nick’s quitting tennis?!’ But I try not to give too much of a shit.”
Thankfully, he is not quitting tennis. In fact, he might really just be getting started.
While an ATP Tour ranking of 22 isn’t where Kyrgios hopes to be in 2023, it’s what Evolve has him doing off the court that’s even more exciting.
Since turning pro as a teenager, Nick Kyrgios has gone viral on YouTube, SportsCenter, and everywhere else.
In 2023, he’ll become a different kind of star by headlining a new Netflix series.
“You’ve seen Drive to Survive? The producers of that are putting out the tennis version,” Stuart shares. “Season 1 comes out in January with six episodes. From what I understand from the very senior people at Netflix, Nick is going to be the big star of that. Kind of the Daniel Ricciardo of it as the relatable, cool, interesting personality off-court but maybe even with a bit more edge.”
Just as Drive to Survive amplified interest in Formula 1 through narrative and character development, Stuart sees the series breaking the same ground for the traditionally buttoned-up sport.
“Tennis really needs that and I think it’ll do wonders for Nick,” Stuart says. “He’s quite a complicated individual and people can’t really tell what he’s like off-court. This will really explain and tell the story that he’s a humble guy, really generous, great personality, a family guy, and not as brash as you might think. This kind of storytelling will help him and the sport of tennis, too.”
As seen by the enormous success of Drive to Survive, Nick’s fiery following has the chance to explode due to the exposure and narrative soon to take hold.
Fans will know Kyrgios as more than just a screaming star that drives sports cars, getting an inside look at his inner obsessive basketball fan and avid pick-up player.
His love of competition outside of his occupation makes him marketable in an arena often short on cool cache, allowing Kyrgios to inform a whole new audience of just how exciting his day job can be.
“There’s a lot of basketball and tennis crossover,” Stuart says.
“Nick is always wearing basketball shirts. With sports, music, and culture, I feel like basketball has always been at the epicenter of that and I feel like these athletes can connect to that, too.”
With Kyrgios’s heart embedded in the hardwood even though his money is made on a different court, the team at Evolve have leaned all the way into his roundball romance.
When working with Nike on both clothing and contract extensions, Stuart and his wife Carly carved out a caveat where Nick appears exactly how he wants to and not like anyone else.
“Nick loves basketball,” Evolve’s Carly Duguid told Boardroom. “So Stuart went to Nike and said, ‘He’s different. He has this appeal and he loves basketball, we want to put him in something that incorporates that and makes him feel like him.'”
Outside of Evolve, not all agents have the brass, insight, or charm to ask a $171 billion empire to outfit an athlete they’re paying in cross-category apparel — let alone actually make it happen.
“Nike agreed,” says Carly who works with Evolve on the stylistic branding side.
At Evolve, it’s all about marketing athletes as they are — especially if they’re authentically unique. From sleeveless shirts and backwards hats to warming up in a Kobe Bryant jersey, Nick looks nothing like his peers, and that’s the point.
After Duguid helped Osaka ascend to $60 million in earnings in 2022, Nick hopes to see his brand partner portfolio blossom in a similar fashion. Aside from his distinct deal with the Swoosh, Nick is now an owner of ALIVE sports drink. As seen by Osaka’s success, the Evolve model is all about partnerships that mean more than just endorsing a company, but also having a voice or equity in the product.
“Stu and Carly are the best and obviously what they achieved with Naomi over the past few years is unprecedented,” Nick says. “There’s a great team atmosphere and they work really well with my manager, Horse.”
As Evolve’s first signee in June 2022, the new representation has already done wonders for Kyrgios where off-court earnings are concerned.
“We are all pulling in the same direction,” he says. “Since working with Stu, my business has grown tremendously. But to be honest even more important than growth has been the authenticity in my partnerships, and also sharing the same sense of style and values.”
Still, for all endeavors to take off, tennis has to remain first, and it does.
Stuart notes Nick’s tennis IQ is “off the charts” and sees no reason for additional guidance on the court.
When it comes to playing, he has all the tools, it’s just about putting it together. For fans, it’s watching him experience the highs and lows of said journey that make him so magnetic and marketable.
From wearing red Air Jordans at Wimbledon to heckling peers, Kyrgios is not like any tennis player before him, but he might influence a whole era after him.
“They love seeing players be different and break the mold,” says Carly. “That’s what we have in mind with Evolve and everything that we do.”
Making money, moves, and memes, Nick’s viral personality positions him as the sport’s disruptor and also its most unlikely crossover star. Backed by the team that’s taken Naomi Osaka to the top both on the court and off of it, Nick’s set to take off.
“Evolve shares that vision. They just want me to be me,” Kyrgios says.
“Where that goes, we will see, but no one can ever say I’m not a real one.”
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