Naomi Osaka's new sports agency, Evolve, has its first client.
Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios is joining Evolve, marking the young agency's very first athlete signing. Kyrgios had been represented by Evolve co-founder Stuart Duguid at IMG until he left to go into business with Osaka.
“Kyrgios embodies the types of athletes we want to work with at EVOLVE,” Osaka said in a statement. “He’s got an unmatched style, passion, and personality that is unlike any other in the sport. We have some big things in the pipeline for him that are very unique and pioneering.”
Osaka and Duguid (who is also Osaka's agent) launched Evolve in mid-May, but not as a traditional sports agency. Evolve is focused on brand partnerships investing, creating athlete-owned businesses, and philanthropy. Duguid said in May that Evolve isn't trying to be a large agency, and may only take on a few clients. He recently told Boardroom that he and Osaka are looking for athletes that transcend their sport and influence culture.
Kyrgios, 27, is certainly a singular athlete who transcends his sport. The six-time ATP Tour champion is known for his outrageous on-court behavior as much as he's known for tennis. Barely a tournament goes by without a story about him smashing his racket or yelling at the umpire, the crowd, his opponent, or himself. At the Halle Open just last week he smashed his racket after getting into an argument with the chair umpire, and yelled at a ball kid for trying to break his focus by not "running properly."
Kyrgios also has tremendous tennis skills and even more potential. He's made it to the semifinals in three straight tournaments, boosting him into the ATP Top 50 for the first time in 18 months. In fact, he's risen 20 spots in the last month, going from 65 to 45.
“When I learned that Stuart and Naomi were starting an agency focused on supporting athletes like me, it made complete sense to join,” Kyrgios said in a statement. “I have consistently tried to do things differently throughout my career and bring my entire personality to the game of tennis. I’m excited to work with Stuart and Naomi to continue building on what we’ve started and push the game of tennis forward.”
Kyrgios will be unseeded at Wimbledon after losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the semis at the Halle Open.