If Nick Kyrgios had shown half as much spark on court as he did in his post-match news conference, the Australian might have scraped more than the 10 games he managed in Monday’s schizophrenic Wimbledon fourth round defeat to Andy Murray.
Despite crackling with natural ability, even Kyrgios at his best would have struggled against world number two and former champion Murray, who on Monday was firing on all cylinders.
That would have been understandable. The seemingly half-hearted manner of the 7-5 6-1 6-4 defeat was unfathomable and, to some, barely forgivable.
“I hope he sees the writing on the wall before this gets chronic and irreparable,” former Wimbledon great John McEnroe, no stranger to controversy in his own playing days, said after the defeat.
“He’s got as lot of thinking to do, a lot of work to do.”
“He’s got to ask himself how badly he wants to become the best player in the world.”
The 21-year-old youngster himself gave a typically unvarnished verdict: “Pretty pathetic”.
It was an apt summary of a match that he started by pummelling almost unreturnable serves but ended muttering sarcastic self-criticism and refusing to take a seat a change-over, preferring instead to skulk in the shadows at the back of the Centre Court baseline.
It was a mental collapse that Kyrgios did not try to dodge.
“I thought I was playing some really good tennis. I believed that I could win the match,” he said of the early stages.
“As soon as I lost the first set, I just lost belief.”
Early indications weren’t overly promising that Kyrgios would take McEnroe’s advice.
Asked by a journalist did he feel he was applying everything he had “in his gut and heart” to becoming the best pro he could be, his answer was short if not sweet - “No”.
Was that something he wanted to address and change? “I don’t know.”
One thing he was clear about, though, were his feelings about tennis.
“I’ve previously said, I don’t love the sport,” Kyrgios told reporters. “But, you know, I don’t really know what else to do without it.”
“I obviously like playing the game. It’s a massive part of my life. But, yeah, I don’t know whether - I don’t really know...”
When asked if he felt he was at a crossroads in his career, and could either learn from this defeat or walk away from a sport, the world number 18 was affronted: “That’s a diabolical question”.
A more valid one might be why the supremely-talented Kyrgios hasn’t turned to a wise head to help him navigate this part of his career, just as Milos Raonic has with McEnroe, Marin Cilic with Goran Ivanisevic and Murray with Ivan Lendl.
“I don’t know, just, like, one week I’m pretty motivated to train and play. I’m really looking forward to getting out there. One week I’ll just not do anything,” Kyrgios said.
“I don’t really know a coach out there that would be pretty down for that one,” he explained, adding that he simply enjoyed the freedom of not having an adviser.
“Just doing whatever you want, I guess. I like it.”
Certainly a former champion might have tweaked the Australian’s preparations for this match.
“To be honest, I woke up this morning and played computer games,” Kyrgios said. “Is that the greatest preparation? I don’t know. But it was fun.”