MELBOURNE. — An unlikely hero of his country’s bushfire relief efforts, Nick Kyrgios enters the Australian Open on a rare surge of goodwill from a sports-loving public long infuriated by his failure to convert talent into trophies.
For a player branded “polarizing” for his long rap sheet of indiscretions, Kyrgios has been a galvanizing force in raising funds and awareness as Australia comes to terms with the unprecedented devastation left by the fires.
The 24-year-old has raised thousands off his own racquet after pledging A$200 ($137) for every ace he bashes down in the home summer but it his efforts away from the court that have caught the eye.
His appeals on a social media platform boasting over 1.6 million followers have inspired a bigger wave of generosity, nudging celebrities and top athletes from other sports to open their wallets.
Hearts have also been opened toward Kyrgios, who drew warm applause from the terraces last Wednesday during the “Rally4Relief” charity event at Rod Laver Arena where he broke down in tears when speaking of the toll of the bushfires. – Reuters