Aussie tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios’ meltdown at the Australian Open was a final, public admission that he needs help to get his career – and life – back on track.
Just two days after it seemed that Nick Kyrgios was finally winning the battle with his inner demons following his first-round win and refusal to take the bait of trashing Roger Federer following the Swiss’ comments about him, it all came tumbling down.
First, the volatile Aussie visibly crumbled out on court – two sets up and looking good against Italian veteran Andreas Seppi, Kyrgios had one of his all-too-familiar meltdowns as his game self destructed into a tide of double faults and unforced errors, while the mental control he had shown on Monday unravelled in a series of court-side tirades directed at his team and himself as he lost in five sets.
Then came the incredible press conference during which the crestfallen Aussie sensationally admitted that he was unprepared both physically and mentally, that he needed a coach and that he himself was the biggest obstacle to his career.
“That’s how it’s been my whole career really. I put my head down, want it. But things happen. It’s just me not being able to be consistent, not really wanting it. Stuff like that happens. So, yeah,” he said.
Kyrgios added that he had been badly prepared for the Open, played too much basketball and his body was sore before taking a dig at John McEnroe, who had accused the Aussie of not trying in the five-set defeat.
“Well, my body was sore. I was hurting. I mean, John McEnroe, was it John McEnroe? Good on him. Great career. Good on him.”
Asked about his painful knee, he replied: “I don’t know. Ask Johnny Mac. He knows everything.”
Quizzed about the conversations with his team and his subsequent loss of focus, Kyrgios said: “Poor management, I guess. I think I didn’t have the best preparation. It’s on me.
“Did a couple things in the off-season that I’m probably not going to do next time. It’s on me, I guess. My body’s not in good enough shape. You live and you learn.
Asked what he would change, he said: “Not play as much basketball. Actually take my pre-season seriously.”
Without a coach for a year, Kyrgios admitted that he needed one.
“Yeah, I mean, the coach is always a question mark for me. I think that’s one area where I obviously need to start taking a bit more seriously. I mean, I don’t think there’s anyone in the top 100 without a coach except for me. That needs to change.
“Got to start taking it more seriously. Pre-season is an important part of the year. You build foundations for the rest of the year. Yeah, it’s on me.”
Kyrgios then attributed the defeat to the mental side of the game.
“I think it’s mental. Mental side of things are big for me. That’s where a coach would be good. But obviously I wasn’t physically 100%. But it’s mental, as well. A massive part of it.
“I mean, he played well, as well. Thought he served great today. I got a lot of respect for him. He fights hard. He deserved it.”
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 15, 2017
It was a raw, emotional display from the obviously troubled star, and perhaps the final proof that as well as needing a coach, Kyrgios may well also need to continue the counselling sessions that he agreed to in order to reduce last year’s eight-week ban for tanking if he is to rescue the latent talent that so often struggles to come to the fore.
Kyrgios may come across as an arrogant, spoilt brat who doesn’t deserve the fame and riches on offer to modern day sports stars and that is one of the main reasons that he has failed to endear himself to an Australian public usually willing to embrace sports stars – bad boy or not.
But his latest display, both on and off court, should finally prove to all that through no fault of his own, Kyrgios just cannot help himself, and that he desperately needs the help of others if he to finally get his life and career back on track.