Ahead of tonight’s primetime battle against the world’s number one men’s tennis player, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios has been chosen by Coco Gauff to “go far” in this year’s U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
“He can win the tournament,” said Gauff, the world’s 12th ranked women’s player. “We all know he has the ability to,” the 18-year-old phenom emphasized speaking with USOpen.org.
“I always, always root for him, no matter who he’s playing, to be honest,” Gauff stated. “Overall I think he’s a nice person. At least he’s always been to me. I remember I first hit with him, he probably doesn’t remember this, I was 13 years old at Miami Open. He finished his practice, hit with me for, like, 30 minutes,” she said.
“It’s just things like that that stands out for me. That’s why I feel like I can never dislike him.”
Scheduled to play on Arthur Ashe Stadium, arguably the world’s biggest stage for tennis, Kyrgios is known more for his fiery on-court persona and less for his humanitarianism and outreach, which are equally intense.
For several years Kyrgios has maintained a friendship with Philadelphia native and National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) Excellence Program alum, Tauheed Browning.
Initially bonding over their love for Pokémon, the two have stayed in touch as Browning participated in the USTA Foundation’s Excellence Program and competed in national junior tournaments.
Recently capturing the American Tennis Association National Championships Men’s Open title, Browning has served as Kyrgios’ hitting partner during this year’s U.S. Open.
“He’s been a source of inspiration for me and many other players pursuing careers as professional tennis players,” said Browning.
The 19-year-old grew up playing and training at the Legacy Youth Tennis & Education Center (formerly the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center) and is “appreciative of the opportunity” Kyrios has provided him during the last Grand Slam tournament of the year.
“Like Coco (who Browning has practiced with over the years) I have benefitted from Nick’s humility, kindness and guidance. He’s who I’m routing for to win this tournament and I’d like to think I’ve contributed to his success in the tournament so far,” said Browning.
The connection and influence Arthur Ashe has on Kyrgios and Browning can not be ignored. Ashe would often connect with local youth as he toured the world, establishing genuine relationships that endured until his untimely passing. Unbeknownst to many, Kyrgios operates with the same spirit Ashe exemplified.
On Arthur Ashe Stadium tonight, Kyrgios will aim to take the next step toward becoming a U.S. Open Champion with the support of many known and unknown youth throughout the world whose lives he has positively impacted.
“The other day when I reflected on what I’ve experienced with Nick over the past week and think about Arthur Ashe, I get chills knowing Nick has a real chance to knock of the number one player and win this tournament,” said Browning.
“Maybe the spirit of Arthur Ashe will be with him tonight on Arthur Ashe Stadium. After warming up with an alum of the formerly known as Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center, I’d like to think the stars are aligned in his favor.”