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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, October 30, 2020

Nick Kyrgios

"It’s supposed to be a nice white gentleman’s sport. So seeing someone colored like myself go out there be different and be successful it’s not so easy to see at times,” says Nick Kyrgios.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Tennis has provoked both passion and pain in Nick Kyrgios.

In a new interview with Australian ABC show Reputation Rehab, Kyrgios opens up on his “love-hate” relationship with the sport.

More: Zverev Denies Abuse Allegation

While he loves the platform tennis provides, Kyrgios says he hates the frustration and loneliness of the sport and concludes at times he feels “tennis is a shit sport.”

“I’ve definitely had a bit of a relationship with tennis: it’s a love-hate thing,” Kyrgios told ABC’s Reputation Rehab. “I love what I can get out of the sport. Obviously, a lot of young kids look up to me now and I can give back.

“At times, tennis is a shit sport. It’s so frustrating. You have to be incredibly patient. And losing sucks. And you lose a lot in tennis. Actually there are times when I really love the grind. Like I love training, I love putting it in, but there are times when I hate it.”

Hall of Famer Billie Jean King has remarked prior to the emergence of champions Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, the clothes, the balls and the players were all white. Kyrgios suggests some traditionalists still have an issue seeing “someone colored like myself go out there and be different and be successful.”

“It’s an old, traditional sport tennis,” Kyrgios said. “And you’re out there on your own so the camera’s always on that one person. There’s microphones everywhere. I think if you had microphones everywhere on say an AFL or NRL some of the things would be pretty epic.

“I guess it’s just the culture of tennis. You know, it’s supposed to be a nice white gentleman’s sport. So seeing someone colored like myself go out there be different and be successful it’s not so easy to see at times.”

Hall of Famer Chrissie Evert got to know Kyrgios through his ex-girlfriend, Ajla Tomljanovic, who has trained at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida.

The former No. 1 likes Kyrgios personally, respects his individuality and praises him for his generosity hitting with juniors at her Academy, though she questions his hunger for Grand Slam titles and believes he will continue to produce extreme results.

"I'll talk about Nick a little bit because he's down in Boca quite a bit. I observe him," Evert told Tennis Now. "The thing about Nick, he is his own person. We can just stand by and marvel at his talent, appreciate the big wins, but expect the big losses, too. This is his temperament."

Widely-regarded as one of the mentally strongest champions in Open Era history, Evert asserts championship desire is inherent and cannot really be coached.

"I don't know how much you can teach, again, hunger and focus and commitment," ESPN analyst Evert told Tennis Now during a conference call. "I mean, you can encourage it, but until it gets into his persona, until it gets into his conscience and his heart, we're not going to see the best of Nick Kyrgios. It's just the way he is."

Wearing a green Nike hoodie with the word “freak” emblazoned above the swoosh, Kyrgios contends his behavior on court is not a reflection of his character off court.

“If I’m in a tough battle and I’m losing I tend to swear a lot,” Kyrgios said. “Off the court, I actually don’t. I’m actually quite chilled and mellow so I’m never going to condone swearing and getting angry for no reason.”

The 25-year-old Aussie has cited gentleman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as his tennis hero and his mother, Nil, has publicly encouraged her son to behave more like Roger Federer on court.

At home, Mrs. Kyrgios reveals her son often lets it all hang out.

“He walks around sometimes showing his private parts,” Mrs. Kyrgios revealed. “In the house, but that’s good because that’s a home isn’t it? The home is where you feel comfortable.”

Mrs. Kyrgios said seeing criticism of her son early in his career was “heartbreaking” and shared she “hates” seeing her son referred to as a tennis bad boy.

“At the beginning it was dreadful. It was heartbreaking,” Mrs. Kyrgios said. “Heartbreaking because I wanted to guard him. How do you guard someone from all that negativity? And some of them were racist and some of them were just terrible.”

Tennis Express

The 44th-ranked Kyrgios says a primary frustration is people—even his own family—don’t understand how tough tennis can be on the pro tour.

“I think people just tend to think I just put my hand in a bucket and just pulled out like professional tennis player,” Kyrgios said. “Like I definitely had to work for it. It wasn’t easy to get to this point in my life.

“I feel like when people watch tennis they think it’s quite easy. You know it’s just hitting a ball over the net. There’s a little bit more than that. You have to have pretty good technique; you have to be mentally strong.

"You’re out there on the court by yourself for potentially four to five hours. My mom thinks it’s easy too. When I used to lose matches, she’d say ‘Why are you hitting it there? Hit it away from him.’ And that was against Roger [Federer] one time.”


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