Nick Kyrgios, one of Australia’s greatest sports stars, is known just as much for his talent as he is for his hot and fiery temperature on the tennis court, which sees him regularly smash his tennis racquets. But while many of may just think he’s throwing his toys out the pram, the man himself has recently opened up to reveal where that anger comes from.
Taking to his Instagram Stories, Nick Kyrgios asked his followers to ask him anything. The questions came flooding in and Nick shared some of them, along with his answers, on his feed and they revealed a much more honest and vulnerable Kyrgios than you might expect.
The first question, and the one that formed the thesis of this article, asks, “why do you get angry sometimes when under pressure?” It’s certainly a question that, to some extent, needed to be asked. Not least because we as spectators want to know, but because it gives Nick a chance to explain his actions because on the face of it, he just smashes his racquet when things don’t go his way.
In his response, Nick said, “Because my whole life I’ve been ice cold under it, so I expect better from myself. Also because there is millions of dollars at stake. Do you know what that feels like?”
Nick, unfortunately, doesn’t make it immediately clear at what point things changed for him to the point where he wasn’t as “ice cold” when under pressure. We can only assume it’s when he either turned pro in 2013, or when things really started taking off for him in recent years, such as reaching his first Wimbledon final or winning his first Australian Open doubles title, both in 2022.
We can understand Nick would expect a certain level of quality, as he knows what he’s truly capable of and he has the results to back up his confidence. And, let’s be honest, none of us really like to underperform, especially when we know what we’re capable of. So when Nick, in his opinion, fails whilst being watched by millions of people, it’s only human to let the pressure get the better of him.
On top of that, someone else asked him what his worst habit was. He said, “Winning, it’s addictive. And sometimes unhealthy. It makes you obsessed.”
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Obviously, when things go good for you, you want that to continue, especially when those winning results can bring you “millions of dollars,” as Nick puts it. But as he admits, that same winning mentality has the ability to completely take over your life to the point where it can be hugely detrimental. At the same time, however, Nick’s awareness of his can also be seen as one of his greatest strengths.
He has hinted, on several occasions, of his plans to retire should he ever win a Grand Slam tournament. He said upon getting into the Wimbledon 2022 final, “I’ve been told my whole life that winning Wimbledon is the ultimate achievement.”
“If I had won that I would have come back for other tournaments like 250s [the lowest tier of ATP tournaments], I would have really fought. I’ve kind of reached the pinnacle of what you can achieve in tennis.”Nick Kyrgios
Nick’s battle with depression
Other questions he was asked by fans include, “Are you still battling with depression?”
As CNN reported back in May 2022, the Australian tennis star opened up on his mental health battles, along with his tumultuous relationship with drugs and alcohol. “It was very serious, to the point of self-harm and it’s not okay,” he said.
“I guess I pushed everyone that cared about me away and I wasn’t communicating, and I just shut down real life and I was trying to handle and tackle my problems head-on.”Nick Kyrgios
But, he added that the isolation afforded to him by the global pandemic gave him the space to work through his problems, adding, “I was abusing alcohol a lot, drugs and that spiralled out of control. Now, I barely drink, I literally have a glass of wine at dinner.”
“That was the initial kind of thing I had to clean up a little bit and then build my relationship back with my family and get into healthier habits like the basics; like diet, getting good sleep, trying to train a little bit more and that was it.”
But, in response to being asked the question about his battle with depression, Nick said “everyday.”
He also, we speculate, deliberately answered the question with a picture of himself wearing a t-shirt featuring an image of the late basketball legend, Kobe Bryant. Kyrgios has always been extremely vocal about his love of basketball and how he admired Bryant in particular. He even has a tattoo of the former L.A. Lakers legend on his body, alongside a portrait of Michael Jordan.
So, when Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in 2020, it unsurprisingly dealt a heavy blow to Kyrgios.
Thoughts on tennis
More evidence to suggest where Nick’s fiery temperature stems from came when he was asked to “describe tennis in 3 words.” We certainly wouldn’t have expected Nick to offer up the response he did. “Lonely. Repetitive. Unique.”
Repetitive and unique we can understand. Tennis matches, naturally, are all structured the same way and it’s the pinnacle of racquet sports. But the loneliness aspect of the game Nick feels was surprising, to us at least. He has a coach, a manager, the support of his family and not to mention, a legion of fans… So the fact he still feels alone, it starts to become clearer why he would have the outbursts he does when things don’t according to his plan.
Not only have Nick’s posts helped provide some insight into why he gets so emotionally charged when on the tennis court, but at the same time, they reveal he is much more human and more vulnerable than many of us perhaps expected.