Off-court happenings fuel Nick Kyrgios’ Australian Open ambitions

Roger Federer vs Nick Kyrgios
Spread the love

In the few years that he has made a name for himself on the professional tour, Nick Kyrgios has also had sharp vicissitudes. Most of these have been of his making, while the rest have seen him play a supporting role. So far, a few weeks into the 2020 season, Kyrgios seems to have embraced these contrasts within himself and is ready to play tennis – professionally.

Certain hard-to-miss external factors have contributed to the 24-year-old’s awake-again professional perspective. The raging Australian bushfires and their suffocating aftermath have not only rekindled his fighting spirit but have also extended it to beyond the domain of a tennis court. At the ATP Cup, everyone bore witness to what he set out to do–donate $200 for every ace he would hit during the Australian swing–while helping his squad reach the semi-final.

The scenario, at Melbourne Park, is different from the multi-city, team-driven event that was the newly-minted ATP Cup. Despite Kyrgios’ well-placed intentions, his past shenanigans in tournaments that focus on individual players have made it difficult to shrug off disbelief about his wanting to keep himself centered. But as he put it, in a recent interview with the ATP, looking forward to the Australian Open, things are different this time.

The former Australian Open quarter-finalist remarked, “It is not easy to just completely switch your concentration (to) the Australian Open… When you put it in perspective of what is actually going on… I have to find the balance. I have to go out there and try to get the best out of my game. I think when I’m playing, at the moment, I’m playing for a lot more than myself. I feel like I’m getting the best out of myself with that.”

This assuredness does ease the wariness as to what the Canberra native could do in Melbourne. But has added to this surety of his, is Kyrgios’ placement in the singles draw of the fortnightly event. Seeded 23rd, Kyrgios has not only been placed in the same half but is also in the same quarter as World No. 1 and top-seed, Rafael Nadal. Kyrgios starts off his campaign against Lorenzo Sonego and could face 16th seed Karen Khachanov in the third round. And should he pass those potential first-week tests, Kyrgios will most likely find himself up against 2009 champion Nadal in the round of 16.

For someone who has made it a reiterative habit of declaring how these matches bring out his competitiveness to the fullest, this year’s Australian Open offers Nick Kyrgios twice the incentive to show-off his best. What he makes of this opportunity is a roller-coaster ride to be in throughout the tournament.

Main Photo from Getty.