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Kyrgios on being among favourites for Australian Open title: “It’s a good feeling”

The volatile Australian says he learned a lot from reaching the final at Wimbledon last summer

Nick Kyrgios AO practice 2023 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

A confident Nick Kyrgios says he feels privileged to be talked up as a potential Australian Open champion.

The 27-year-old stepped up a level in 2022, reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, the quarter-finals at the US Open and won his seventh career title in Washington.

And though Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the obvious favourites, Kyrgios goes into the event as a live contender as he tries to become the first Australian man since Mark Edmondson in 1976 to win the title.

“I think everyone wants to get to a position in their sport or their profession, be one of the best and have that expectation and pressure,” Kyrgios said.

“It’s a privilege to go out there and feel that Australia wants me to win and to be one of the favourites. It’s a good feeling,” he said.

“I walked in here at the Australian Open maybe eight, nine years ago as a wildcard. Now to see how my career has unfolded, to get to a point where everyone kind of expects me to win and go far, it’s a good feeling.”

Kyrgios outlines lessons of Wimbledon run

Reaching the final at Wimbledon last year was a turning point for Kyrgios, who was only denied a first Grand Slam title by Novak Djokovic.

Having been criticised for his lack of focus at the biggest events, Kyrgios said it was a “relief” to prove to himself he could do it.

“I always knew belief-wise that my level was there, but to be able to do it consistently was always the issue,” he said. “I think it just kind of showed me how stressful getting to a slam final is, dealing with the outside noise, media commitments, balancing on-court, off-court recovery.

“These guys that have won multiple Grand Slams, they’re just animals, not only physically, but mentally. I don’t get invested with anything before a slam that much any more. Even during, I kind of just roll with the punches, just go where the flow takes me, try to perform when I need to perform. That’s it.

“It was a lot of relief, honestly, that I was able to show it finally at a Grand Slam.”

Kyrgios, the No 20 seed, plays Roman Safiullin of Russia in the first round.

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