As Nick Kyrgios fielded questions after his second-round US Open triumph, the Australian opened up on his transformation into a “really professional” tennis player on the back of his Wimbledon breakthrough.
But the 27-year-old also made the raw admission that reaching his first singles grand slam final, in which he lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic, had shaken his identity as an athlete.
Kyrgios defeated Benjamin Bonzi 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of the New York major and is now set to meet American J.J. Wolf in the third round.
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“Every day I come in, I watch what I eat, I try to get sleep, every practice session I’m trying to have good intent and I almost don’t know who I am anymore, to be honest, because that’s just not me,” Kyrgios said after beating Bonzi.
“I’m trying to balance so many different things out. It’s hard, as well, like, the media, the fans are crazy everywhere I go, I’m trying to balance my personal life as well as my tennis. It’s just a lot.
“I feel like I’m really professional right now and I never thought that the Wimbledon final would make me that way. I thought it’d be the other way, the reverse, almost a bit lax and a bit chilled with it.
Earlier in his press conference, Kyrgios insisted he had great appreciation for his team as he chased his first singles major title.
That was despite playing another match marred by a series of outbursts directed at his box, with the 23rd seed even telling his team to “go home if you’re not going to f—ing support me”.
Kyrgios fights off dogged Frenchman
Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge implored Kyrgios’ team to “take some action” by “standing up and walking out”, while adding his behaviour was “not helpful” and “not healthy”.
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“I feel like in this part of my career I just don’t want to let people down and I feel like I’m representing so many people and I know how much work goes into it with my team and there’s a lot of people supporting me,” Kyrgios said.
“I just remember doing a press conference here maybe three or four years ago, and I lost in the the third round, and I just felt horrible because I kept not exceeding expectations and winning.
“This is probably the most pressure I’ve had on myself. I know that I’m capable of going to a slam final now and I really want to achieve.
“I want to bring my team with me and I want to do it together.”
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In Kyrgios’ box for his clash with Bonzi were his partner, Hatzi, his physiotherapist and another friend.
“I’m definitely a perfectionist on the court,” Kyrgios added in his press conference.
“I can play four or five great points and then I play one (bad) point and I’m going nuts. It’s like, ‘It’s OK’. It’s hard. I want to have success with certain people and … that’s probably why I’m having such high expectations and standards.
“This year has been amazing in so many different ways, but for my tennis, I kind of wanted to almost reinvent myself and get back to the top of the game where I know I belong.”
“But the Wimbledon final was a turning point, I think, mentally for me. If I won that match I don’t know where my motivation would have been, but losing it and being so close — it was really tough for me to kind of swallow that … I thought the pressure would be off me after Wimbledon. ‘Wow, he’s a Wimbledon finalist, he’s nearly over the hump type thing’. But for me, personally, I didn’t think I’d be putting this amount of pressure on myself.”
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