Nick Kyrgios insists he needs to be MORE selfish to win grand slams – as Aussie star explains his stance on sex bans before big matches
- Kyrgios reached his maiden grand slam final at Wimbledon in a breakout 2022
- It comes after years of bad behaviour, tanking and record amounts of fines
- The polarising Aussie said selfishness had cost him grand slam opportunities
- He opens up on the dark years, his new outlook and whether that extends to sex
He refuses to employ a coach, has a shopping list of on-court behavioural offences and has previously favoured the drink over actually playing tennis – yet Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios reckons he hasn’t been selfish enough to realise his potential on the court.
As the 2021 Wimbledon finalist prepares to another tilt at the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Kyrgios opened up to The Times about fame, its impact on his mental health and why he believes a maiden grand slam has eluded him to date.
Kyrgios is famed for his wild behaviour on the court – with many opponents believing it helps fuel his success (pictured playing Karen Kachanov in the US Open quarter finals last year)
The Aussie has been fined an estimated $800,000 for his outbursts (pictured breaking his equipment against Nikola Mektic in the Nitto ATP Finals last November)
The 27-year-old was tipped for a huge career when he exploded onto the scene in 2014 to beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon when he was just 19 years old.
What has followed since has been an enthralling career of meltdowns – Kyrgios has been fined an estimated $800,000 – incidents of tanking or deliberately playing to lose – not to mention some at times hilarious tirades at players, officials and fans including comedian Ben Stiller.
His manager and best friend Daniel Horsfall admits that at the height of Kyrgios’ binge drinking, he had to use a phone tracking app to locate the wayward star, who was passed out at a stranger’s house more than 50km away.
Kyrgios skols a beer in just six seconds and refuses to answer questions at a Laver Cup press conference in 2019. He has previously opened up about his problems with binge drinking
Yet still, Kyrgios believes he needed to be even more self-centred in those years if he wanted to lift a grand slam trophy.
‘If I was a bit more selfish in my career I think I probably would’ve had a more successful career. I probably would’ve been competing with grand slams,’ he said.
Puzzled tennis fans will need a better explanation to understand how Kyrgios could possibly have reached that conclusion.
Firstly, Kyrgios doesn’t believe his behaviour on court is quite what ‘the media’ makes it out to be, despite the record fines he has received.
‘It’s emotional, definitely, but I think more often than not I stay pretty level-headed,’ he said.
‘Ninety-nine per cent of it was even-keeled competing, showing what fighting spirit, discipline and hard work is, but then people who don’t watch tennis are only seeing a 30-second snippet. That doesn’t seem very fair.’
While it pales in comparison to his bad boy antics of yesteryear, Kyrgios continued to flout the rules by riding an e-scooter in Melbourne without a helmet on Sunday
Costeen Hatzi has been a huge support for Kyrgios on tour and the pair are rarely seen out of each other’s company
During Kyrgios’ lowest ebb he believes he was generous in terms of giving his time and attention to loved ones, but he failed to look after himself.
The messaging he received was to push through for others, not seek the help he desperately needed.
‘I didn’t really have anyone to open up to and every time I did it was, like, “Oh, you’ve just got to push through it,” ‘ he said.
‘It was this constant pushing through and being so misunderstood. Now I don’t try to be anything that I’m not, whereas back then I really tried hard to stay in the lane that they wanted to put me in.’
Novak Djokovic and Kyrgios share a moment at the net following the 2022 Wimbledon final won by the Serbian star
Part of the new ‘selfish’ Kyrgios approach has been brushing Australian team events and refusing to pay for a coach because he knows his own game and will work on things he believes need focus.
His relationship with Instagram influencer Costeen Hatzi has also helped centre him.
The result was his best year on tour in 2022.
Reaching the Wimbledon final was a huge turning point in Kyrgios’ career and he also won the doubles at the Australian Open with Thanasi Kokkinakis and both doubles and singles at the Citi Open in Washington
Thanasi Kokkinakis plants a kiss on Kyrgios’ cheek after the duo won the doubles at the 2022 Australian Open
Kokkinakis and Kyrgios hold aloft the trophy after beating fellow Aussies Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in the final of the men’s doubles at the Australian Open
So now, as the more selfish Kyrgios enters the 2023 Australian Open with perhaps his best change of winning it to date, does that selfishness extend to a sex ban?
‘Oh, jeez no,’ he said.
But it will include plenty more self-reflection and attention to give himself the best possible shot.
‘Tennis is probably the hardest sport — it’s not just over a week to win a grand slam, it’s 14 days of enormous pressure and discipline and diligence,’ he said.
‘Mentally, after a big week and after all the media, the spotlight, my anxiety, it just never ends in your head.’
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