Thursday, September 21, 2023

Australian Open, Nick Kyrgios reveals disappointing fear of media negativity

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Nick Kyrgios revealed he didn’t know “how I would have reacted to negativity this year” had he lost his five-set Australian Open to Ugo Humbert, in a sober look at the psyche that the Australian carries with him every time he walks in court.

Speaking in the aftermath of one of Melbourne Park’s most memorable wins, the 25-year-old revealed as he stood in the center of John Cain Arena: “If you were in my head I was thinking of all of you the s– “I was going to make a cop if I lost this game – there were dark thoughts.”

It’s a sobering admission of a beloved yet so disparaged figure in one of the most critical sports.

No stranger to a negative headline, this is not the first time that Kyrgios has revealed his fear of the negative press and the consequences it entails.

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In 2019, Kyrgios was caught on short-side mics, scared of what the media would say if he had retired due to injury against Rafael Nadal in Acapulco.

“If I give up, the media will blow everything up… I’ll be booed off the field,” Kyrgios said to a coach.

The 23-year-old will persevere to ultimately win this game and the entire tournament.

Still, it’s a disturbing glimpse into the baggage Kyrgios carries, which has been made all the heavier due to the expectations that come with his prodigious talent and which has been further galvanized by his antics on the pitch.

Nick Kyrgios ends his comeback

So when the issue surfaced again on Wednesday night after securing his spot for the third round against Dominic Thiem, reporters were understandably intrigued.

“The media is not holding me back,” said a candid Kyrgios as he waited for the media at his post-match press conference.

“I was really thinking about, you know, there’s a lot of expectation that I haven’t played in a year. Coming back, I wasn’t expecting too much of myself but of course when I I’m one point away from an exit in the second round, I was almost scared.

“I was afraid to walk into that room, go to my Airbnb and read about it and take it all in, take all the negativity… that I’ve already taken. It’s not easy to come back and try to put it all behind.

“And that’s what I was thinking. My back is against the wall and I don’t know how I got out of it. But I don’t know how I would have reacted to the negativity this year.

“Every tennis player deals with negative stuff, I know. I’m not trying to play the victim here. I don’t live under a rock, I know that cop a lot of flak for everything I do.

“Sometimes I don’t read it, but it’s hard to miss when I wake up and go on Instagram or something and it’s just subconsciously there. My mind takes it all in. It’s not not easy to leave everything behind. “

There was an undeniable shift in mentality on Wednesday night, which saw a visibly ‘locked in’ Kyrgios, as Jim Courier described him, ditch the explosions and histrionics on the pitch to dodge two match points and demand an astonishing retaliation. .

Perhaps this is the change audiences so craved for him as he matures in the middle years of his career, and which could help dissolve some of the past negativities that have tarnished his image.

Still, the impact of having such expectations on you at such a young age clearly stuck with the Aussie, who recalled perhaps one of the hardest truths in his head before concluding his press conference .

“I started dealing with this when I was 17 or 18 – I was a kid then,” he said.

“I know now, I’m trying to block it, more mature and all that, but it’s still not easy.

“Say another Australian loses tonight, they (the media) are going to be like, ‘Oh, great effort to win a first round, he really put the heart out.” But if I lose tonight, it’s an absolute disaster.

“I remember one night when I played [Andreas] Seppi and I lost in five sets, in straight sets, and I got kicked off the field. I was like, I just feel like it’s not that easy. “

Australian Open: Nick Kyrgios vs. Ugo Humbert

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