Nick Kyrgios is taking a relaxed approach to his title defence in Brisbane, admitting he feels rusty for not spending much time on court during the offseason, and toyed with his home press telling them he “probably wouldn’t play for the rest of the year” if he wins the Australian Open.
The 23-year-old Aussie, who slipped to 35 in the world after a tough 2018 that saw him battle elbow and hip injuries, said he intends to play a “light schedule” in 2019 in an attempt to avoid home sickness while on the road.
The Canberra-native has been outspoken about his mental struggles in the past, and how he lacks motivation when he spends several months traveling away from Australia for tournaments.
In the build-up to the Brisbane International (kicks off on Sunday), Kyrgios spent two days in the hospital treating a spider bite on his foot. The bite caused his foot to be swollen and prevented him from hitting the last couple of days.
“When I got home I didn’t touch a racquet for a month,” Kyrgios told reporters in Brisbane when asked about his offseason and whether he spent much time hitting on court.
“Not at all. I spent a lot of time in the gym, I was playing a lot of basketball, just being home. I feel like the offseason for me is not about getting on court and trying to improve or get better. I want to completely step away from the game and like really just enjoy my time at home. I play enough tennis during the year, I’m sick of bit by the time I get home. So the last thing I want to do is go out there and hit more balls.
“I’ll probably be rusty. I wouldn’t be surprised if I go out there and hit like 30 unforced errors, doesn’t matter to me.
“I haven’t really been on court that much. I’m going to go out there today and maybe hit for 10, 15 minutes, see how the foot feels. I haven’t really been thinking about it too much.”
Lemme troll some more 🤣 https://t.co/MrC8K0f7Zo
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) December 29, 2018
While all players spend at least two to three weeks of their offseason going through gruelling training blocks and making improvements to their game, Kyrgios sees it differently.
“I don’t know if it’s an outlook, I just don’t want to play when I’m sat home with my family,” he states.
Kyrgios contested 38 matches across 14 events (plus one Davis Cup tie) in an injury-plagued 2018 and it sounds like he plans on playing less in 2019.
“I’m going to play a very, very light schedule this year,” he said.
Asked about his goals for the new season, Kyrgios added: “Not much to be honest. Have a light schedule, when I play, enjoy playing and go out there just compete. I haven’t really set any goals or anything like that.
“I’m not sure the exact number [of tournaments I’ll play], but if I was to win Aus Open or something, I probably wouldn’t play for the rest of the year.”
That last remark was an obvious exaggeration, meant to lure reporters into taking his statements seriously.
The former world No. 13 did confirm though that his physical problems are behind him for now.
“Obviously I’ve dealt with a couple of injuries last season. I think being home just solved all my problems really. I was away from home for like five and a half months. I don’t really want to ever do that again. I was just looking forward to going home. I was in the gym a lot, I feel good. The elbow is feeling good.
“I love just being in Canberra and being with my family, being with my friends. It was tough, it was more just mentally. I think just being away from home was the toughest it. Battling injuries, going to tournaments and not even playing was tough. But again, they’re not really big problems, there are a lot more important things.”
Kyrgios’ first round in Brisbane is a rematch of last year’s final against American Ryan Harrison.
He remains coachless but was working with his strength and conditioning coach Ashcon Rezazadeh in Canberra during the offseason, and is accompanied by the Brit in Brisbane this week.
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