Kyrgios says absence 'brutal' but didn't 'miss tennis'

He was fined $10,000 for spitting and $4,000 for shouting obscenities -- one of which sent the British tabloids into meltdown as it was within earshot of eight-year-old Prince George.
Nick Kyrgios in London, on July 2, 2023. (Photo|AFP)
Nick Kyrgios in London, on July 2, 2023. (Photo|AFP)

LONDON: Australian whirlwind Nick Kyrgios will blow back into Wimbledon where he made a storming run to the final in 2022, admitting his injury-enforced absence from tennis has been "brutal".

The 28-year-old firebrand has only played one match in 2023 -- in Stuttgart last month -- after undergoing knee surgery.

It was the worst possible preparation for a return to the All England Club 12 months after losing the final to Novak Djokovic.

"It's been brutal, it's been hard," Kyrgios said Sunday.

However, he added: "I didn't miss the sport. I was almost dreading coming back a little bit, but it's my job."

At Wimbledon in 2022, the Australian dominated most of the headlines.

His high-octane, flamboyant shot-making was accompanied by signature clashes with rivals and officialdom.

He was fined $10,000 for spitting and $4,000 for shouting obscenities -- one of which sent the British tabloids into meltdown as it was within earshot of eight-year-old Prince George.

Kyrgios also fought out an explosive third round clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas with the Greek even describing him as "evil" and a "bully".

In the final against Djokovic, he demanded a woman be ejected from the crowd for consuming "700 drinks, bro".

"In a way it was good to be home. Obviously heartbreaking as well," said Kyrgios as he reflected on his time out of the sport.

"Last year I felt like everything kind of came together for me. Finals of Wimbledon. Barely lost a match. Had the third best season on tour.

"Obviously my body was just crying out for some sort of rest."

For Kyrgios, being away from the tennis courts didn't mean an absence from the public view.

Social media 'rabbit hole' 

In May, his car was stolen from his mother at gunpoint from outside the family home in Canberra.

Before that incident, Kyrgios pleaded guilty in February to assaulting a former girlfriend.

He avoided a conviction for what the magistrate called a "single act of stupidity".

Kyrgios has also been the headliner in the Netflix series "Break Point" where he spoke candidly about his mental health.

He admitted he had considered suicide and ended up in a psychiatric ward in 2019.

"It took me seven, eight years to be able to just open up about that," he explained on Sunday.

"I feel great now. It's hard because I'm putting so much expectation on myself. Compared to that time, I'm feeling a lot better."

Kyrgios says his mental well-being has been aided by reducing the time he spends on social media, describing it as a "rabbit hole".

"It's horrible what athletes have to deal with. I don't think it's normal at all, how much criticism, how much negativity, how much sniping that people have to deal with now. It's out of control."

Despite claiming not to have missed tennis, Kyrgios has been enchanted by the impact made by world number one Carlos Alcaraz.

"What Alcaraz has been able to put together in such a short period of time is nuts. He's got such discipline and he just loves the sport.

"He's fun to watch. He's got so much discipline but he's got that showman about him, as well, which I like.

"He loves getting people chanting his name, which is pretty cool."

Kyrgios begins his Wimbledon campaign on Monday against former top 10 player David Goffin, who has made the quarter-finals on his last two visits.

He admits there remain "question marks" over his ability to play best-of-five sets after such a lengthy absence.

"I feel like to the outside world, people don't understand. Just because it's not contact, it's not that physical.

"I dare someone to go out there and play four hours with Novak and see how you feel afterwards."

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The New Indian Express