The Nick Kyrgios of 2016 is all about perspective.
The 20-year-old Aussie has plenty to be proud of as he followed up his maiden title victory in Marseille last Sunday with two wins in Dubai – where he is making his debut – to march into Thursday’s quarter-finals.
But Kyrgios refuses to pat himself on the back or make a big deal out of it.
“There are greater things happening in the world than me playing a tennis match. I’m kind of happy that I’m playing well. But at the same time, you know if I lose, I lose, I go home, it’s really a win-win situation,” he said after his 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round on Wednesday.
Kyrgios feels like he has matured and says he is enjoying his life on tour more than before.
It was evident against Kukushkin as he put on a real show for the lucky spectators in the stands, who got to watch Kyrgios hit tweeners, fire serve-bombs and unleash forehands in full flight, for free on the non-ticketed Court 1.
“I think I’m just having a lot more fun. I’m definitely playing a lot better than I was last year as well,” said Kyrgios.
“I’m enjoying my practice sessions more. I was really struggling mentally towards the end of last year or midway through. Every day seemed like such a grind, or like a day job but now I’m actually starting to enjoy it a little bit more.”
And is there a specific reason why he’s enjoying it more now?
“I don’t know. I just met a couple of people in my life and I’m just not putting – at the end of the day it’s just tennis,” he responds.
Kyrgios may be having fun while on court, but he admits that he hasn’t fully adapted to the travelling circus that is the ATP tour. He had told reporters in Marseille that trying to go home – to Canberra – as frequently as possible was a priority and that he wasn’t keen on playing a heavy schedule.
This is Kyrgios’ second full season on the ATP tour as he was still playing Challengers up until mid-2014. He has made a rapid rise, reaching two Grand Slam quarter-finals, and is currently ranked No.33 in the world.
Asked if he feels fully adjusted to life on tour, Kyrgios said: “Yes and no. I had a couple of things last year off the court that made me look at this world a little different, and I’m just enjoying my tennis a little bit more now…
“I definitely don’t want to play too many events this year. I want to try and stay home as much as I can, I want to spend time with my family and relax at home whenever I get the chance. I don’t want to be the type of guy that’s playing every week and being away from home,” he explained.
“If you look at the top guys, they don’t actually play that much. They control their schedules, they don’t have to play every week. If you’re doing well in every event that you choose, I don’t believe that you have to play every week.”
Many players from Australia struggle with staying away from home for so long as they have to go on the road for months and months at a time.
The young Aussie revealed he is in the process of setting up a second base for himself in the Bahamas, which is something his Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt had done in the past.
Kyrgios has a rough schedule these few weeks as he played and won Marseille, flew to Dubai, then will head to Melbourne to play Davis Cup next week, before flocking to Palm Springs to play Indian Wells.
For the moment, he is focused on his quarter-final opponent Tomas Berdych, who eased past Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday.
Kyrgios lost to Berdych in the Australian Open third round last month but avenged that loss in Marseille last Saturday.
“He’s a guy that every day he backs up – whether he loses or he wins he’s so professional and I think that’s what makes him such a great player,” said Kyrgios of the third-seeded Berdych.
“He’s so diligent with everything he does. He’s a great guy as well.
“The conditions here are completely different, it’s going to suit him. He serves big, he plays big so it is going to be a good match. I’m looking forward to it.”
Kyrgios told us he's in the process of setting up a second base in the Bahamas #DDFTennis— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) February 24, 2016
Berdych, a two-time runner-up in Dubai, feels Kyrgios has improved in a number of ways.
“He’s really like fireworks on the court. I mean in a good way. He’s playing really aggressive. He’s going for a lot of shots that they are not really on the safe side,” said the World No.7.
“So he’s risking a lot. If couple of those shots are going in and he makes those extra points, then it can really make a difference.
“But overall he’s been serving incredibly well, and I think he’s been much more solid on the return side, as well.”
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