Nick Kyrgios explained that he was trying to be what others wanted him to be and that made him uncomfortable. It could almost be likened to depression. He did not want to leave his room. Going to events was exhausting, meeting people who “really didn’t care who I was as a human being, rather just a tennis player … the crazy tennis player”.
He felt used and mentally abused and no matter the conversation he might have been having with people, it came across that they were “just trying to use me” and he lost trust in people. He fell out with his family and “it was just dark”.
There was intense emotional and mental pain.
He added: “I felt I was letting people down all the time. I felt worthless to be honest, I didn’t feel comfortable, I hated my life at one stage.
“I was cutting, burning, just pretty f*#^ed up s#*t. It was so dark that I kind of liked it as well, like asking people to do it and stuff. What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger (and stronger). I’m still a bit cooked.”
And then on top of all the negativity, he faces the opinions of others – Kyrgios needs a coach; Nick should be doing this and that. In essence why should it be anyone else’s business. How does the next person know what is good for him or not?
They’re not living in his skin to know firsthand. It’s interference. It’s a very big problem with society. The next person thinks they know it all. So-called authorities take it upon themselves to insist which player needs a coach, through to claiming someone coughing has covid but is not prepared to acknowledge it could be something else.
“It’s a very big problem with society,” he said. “Everyone thinks their two cents is relevant to someone else’s life. You’re not living their life so how do you know what they should be doing or how they’re feeling on problems there dealing with. If you find that peace within yourself, you don’t have to please anyone else – the results are coming. People are always going to have opinions.”
And while no one should expect Nick Kyrgios to be an altar boy, there has been a marked change in his attitude and approach. There are way more smiles across his face and when he laughs, it is an infectious laugh. It is an exciting shift that can be put down to two things – the Australian Open and his girlfriend Costeen Hatzi an interior designer.
He found new motivation in Melbourne. Before, he had lost his vision on court and what he was wanting to achieve. However, what he and Thanasi Kokkinakis accomplished on Rod Laver Arena in front of a massive, enthusiastic crowd to win the men’s doubles, their first title at a major, reminded him that people relate to him. “We made the sport energetic – the WWE even sent us wrestling belts for Christ’s sake,” he said.
Tennis is still a love hate relationship for him, but he felt a big change even though he lost his singles to Daniil Medvedev in an entertaining match at the Australian Open. He remained focused and “ticked all the boxes for the first time”. It was a case of still feeling good despite the loss.
Off court and within himself he is as comfortable as he has ever been, and he doesn’t beat himself up after losing a match. When you are healthy (as he is now) and being happy, it translates to the court.
“I do love the sport; I’m a massive student of the game and I do enjoy watching tennis at times,” Kygs said. “I love it to a degree; it’s my life and I’ve dedicated hours and hours that I’m never going to get back.”
He’s been finding that crucial balance and Nick credits a fair bit to Costeen who he describes as “awesome and my best friend”.
“She doesn’t really know anything about tennis. The only two players she knows is me and Thanasi and that makes tennis quite exciting for her,” he said laughing, which was wonderful to see after all the darkness Nick had described. “If she knew 95% of the tour, she’d probably blow her brains out. I’m actually at a point in my life I’d like to start settling down a bit. I’ve had a lot of fun in my life.”
Maybe the first step to that settling down has happened with Nick buying a penthouse last week in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.