From the depths of despair to the verge of the Wimbledon final – how Nick Kyrgios rekindled his passion and belief
The Aussie was close to bailing on his bright potential, but had a deep think about what his career means, both to himself and those close to him.
Long on talent but short on desire, Nick Kyrgios has been considered a squanderer of otherworldly gifts by more than a few tennis aficionados in the past.
Maybe not so many after his run to the Wimbledon semi-finals, however, a moment he relished, thinking about how far he had come, from the depths of despair to the verge of the Wimbledon final.
“There was a point where I was almost done with the sport,” he said. “Obviously I posted this year about the kind of mental state I was in in 2019 when I was at the Australian Open with self-harm and suicidal thoughts and stuff.
“I’m sitting there today after the match… To be a semi-finalist at Wimbledon, it’s a special accomplishment for everyone, but I think especially for me.”
Blessed with enormous talents, but little sense of direction when it came to his career arc, Kyrgios long floundered as a magnet for controversy who could trade blows with the top talents in the game – he owns impressive victories over each of the Big Three – but who didn’t really care about his place in the tennis pantheon.
And he made no secret about it.
“I know who I am,” Kyrgios said last year. “I just don’t put that much pressure on myself anymore. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with not winning Grand Slams.
“I know that’s going to make a lot of people angry. ‘He should be doing this.’ But I shouldn’t, though. It’s not your life, it’s mine. I’m okay with just enjoying myself, putting on a show.”
Fast forward a year and Kyrgios is making no secret about the fact that he’s pleased as punch to have reached his first semi-final this week at Wimbledon – he would be even more pleased if he could come away with the Wimbledon title on Sunday.
“I just sat there today and soaked it all in. There’s just so many people I want to thank. At the same time I feel like I don’t want to stop here either.”Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios – I don’t want to stop here
“If you asked anyone if I was able to [reach a Grand Slam semi-final] in the last couple years, I think everyone would have probably said, ‘No, he doesn’t have the mental capacity, he doesn’t have the fitness capacity, he doesn’t have the discipline,’ all that.
“I almost started doubting myself with all that traffic coming in and out of my mind.
“I just sat there today and soaked it all in. There’s just so many people I want to thank. At the same time I feel like I don’t want to stop here either.”
A “rocky road”
Asked to describe his tennis journey on Wednesday, Kyrgios quickly came up with a one-word answer.
Until today’s three-set triumph over Cristian Garin (6-4, 6-3, 7-6) Kyrgios had not reached a major quarter-final since 2015, and many believed he likely never would. But something clicked this season for the 27-year-old Canberra native. He seemed to figure out how to play on the ATP Tour on his own unique terms.
“I obviously had thoughts the last year, year and a half, whether I wanted to play anymore,” Kyrgios said. “Lost the love, lost the fire, lost the spark. Then some things just changed in my life. I don’t know. I kind of just rediscovered that I’ve got a lot of people that want me to play, that I play for. I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I feel like I’m probably playing some of my best tennis, mentally feeling great.
“It’s been a long road. I think it was a seven, eight-year gap to make a quarterfinal here from my first one. It’s been a heck of a ride.”
A more mature Kyrgios?
Kyrgios points out the difference between his 27-year-old self and the younger version, hinting that he is taking his cues a bit from his peers and embracing a more professional, holistic approach to playing a Grand Slam.
“I just feel like I’m more mature,” Kyrgios said. “I think earlier in my career if I made a third, fourth or quarter-finals, I’d be on my phone a lot, I would be engaging online a lot, would be keen to go out to dinner and explore or just do things to kind of, not necessarily soak in the achievement, but just not conservatively just go back to my house at Wimbledon with my team, put my feet up, get treatment and eat, get good rest.”
And now we come to the full circle moment. The one where Kyrgios talks about winning a Grand Slam and admits it is a possibility – and something he’d like to do.
“I think everyone has the same goal in my team,” he said. “That’s why it’s working. We all know what we’ve come here to do. I made it pretty known to them that I wanted to go pretty deep here and possibly even raise the trophy. I’ve made that pretty known.”