Nick Kyrgios admits he is feeling the pressure of expectation on his shoulders as he prepares for the Australian Open – where he hopes to win his first ever Grand Slam.
The world No. 22 has put himself in the conversation as one of those expected to go far in Melbourne after a stunning season in 2022.
Kyrgios started the year with an Australian Open doubles title alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis before going onto reach the Wimbledon men’s singles final – where he was defeated by Novak Djokovic.
Add a Washington Open singles title and a run to the US Open quarter-finals and Kyrgios has developed a level of competition which sees him as a genuine contender for the sport’s biggest trophies.
Playing at the Australian Open – which gets underway on January 16 – comes with the additional pressure of being Kyrgios’ home Grand Slam.
However, he is ready for the challenge ahead. He told Eurosport: “I always believe that pressure is a privilege.
“In real life, there’s not much pressure to being a professional tennis player. We earn great money, we travel around the world with our favourite people.
“We get to see different people, different cultures. In the scheme of things, that’s not pressure but I completely understand going on the match court with all this expectation that ‘Nick Kyrgios is legitimate chance to win a Grand Slam now’, there’s a lot of pressure there especially having the Australian Open and everyone in Australia expecting big things from me.
“It’s a lot to handle sometimes. Being in the spotlight is not easy.”
Controlling his emotions has never been a strength for Kyrgios, who has become known for his on court outbursts – often aimed in the direction of the umpire.
Instead of watching him for the distinct possibility of fireworks at any given moment, tennis fans are now enjoying seeing the Australian take on the game’s top players, but he admits the expectation weighs heavy.
He said: “I feel like I’ve embraced that and I’ve taken that challenge on. It’s not easy, I’ve really worked hard to try and channel it, internalise it and use it as fuel.”
Kyrgios feels as though there are often many eyes keeping close tabs on his movements.
“It’s always hard being me,” he said. “When I win a tournament or win something of value, they always want more. It’s never like, ‘OK, it’s time to rest’, it’s like, ‘right, do it again’ or ‘do it now’”.
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Lleyton Hewitt was the last Australian man to win a major title with his 2002 Wimbledon triumph, while male success on home turf goes back even further to Mark Edmondson’s win in Melbourne in 1976.
“I’ve learnt that the people will never have enough. For me, I’ve achieved some great things in this sport and where I came from. I know I’m content with myself. I want to achieve more for myself, but for all of my team, not for anyone else”, Kyrgios said.
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