NEW YORK (AP) — In one breath, Nick Kyrgios is talking about entering the U.S. Open as confident and playing as well as ever, coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon and some strong results on hard courts in recent weeks.
Next up, always an enigma, 23rd-seeded Kyrgios says he can’t wait for his stay at Flushing Meadows to end — perhaps as soon as Monday night, when he faces his “good mate,” fellow Australian and doubles partner Thanasis Kokkinakis — for to be able to go back home to the other side of the world.
Asked what he takes from running at the All England Club in July, Kyrgios said: “The confidence in myself that I can do it for two weeks. Staying in one spot for two to three weeks can be exhausting. And knowing that I can do that and do things the right way and do every workout, every recovery session, the right way, is confidence in the back of my mind. But also, I’m the type of player that if I had won Wimbledon, I probably wouldn’t have played the US Open.”
His first-round match could otherwise be a long-awaited highlight of Day 1 at the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, along with appearances from 2021 men’s champion Daniil Medvedev (vs. Stefan Kozlov) and 2022 French Open finalist Coco Gauff (against Leolia Jeanjean) during the afternoon session at Ashe.
The rest of Monday’s schedule will be overshadowed by the match that precedes Kyrgios vs. Kokkinakis on the night: 23-time champion Serena Williams, in what could be the final singles match of her career, against Danka Kovinic. Kyrgios knows, of course, how important that is, although he doesn’t expect to see any as he prepares to play.
“Obviously it’s a very special moment for her. She’s probably the best ever,” he said. “Whether or not we see someone living the career they have? I don’t think it’s possible.”
His career alone is rather unique.
Not in the same way with noticeable results, mind you. But the way he carries himself on the field — from between-the-leg shots to clashes with opponents or chair umpires or fans — is far from typical.
At Wimbledon, where he made his first major quarter-final before losing to Novak Djokovic in a four-set final, there were plenty of big serves and heads, as always.
But he was also fined $10,000 for spitting in the direction of a spectator, a slur with Stefanos Tsitsipas during and after their match (Tsitsipas said Kyrgios has a “very bad side” and accused him of “constant bullying”) and a back-and-forth about a woman in the stands who Kyrgios said was drunk (and who recently sued him for saying so). And, during this fortnight, news emerged from Australia of a pending court case involving an assault charge against an ex-girlfriend.
Djokovic managed to capture the multiple sides of Kyrgios in a lengthy response to a press conference ahead of their match on Center Court last month, saying that “it seems like, mentally, he’s in better shape than he was, where he was , a couple of years ago” and noting he “thrives on a big stage” and “has so much talent,” then concluding, “We know what’s been going on for years with him mentally, emotionally. on and off the field, he was distracted by a lot of different things and he couldn’t have that consistency.”
That last word is not often associated with the 27-year-old Kyrgios. It is appropriate lately.
Since Wimbledon, as the tour moved to North American hard courts ahead of Flushing Meadows, Kyrgios won a doubles title with Kokkinakis in Atlanta (they were doubles champions at the Australian Open in January), becoming the first man who ever won singles and doubles titles in the same year in Washington, then beat Medvedev en route to the quarter-finals in Montreal, before escaping with a second-round loss to top-seeded American Taylor Fritz in Cincinnati.
“I was so mentally and physically worn out. Mentally I wanted to go out there and put on another good performance. my body almost didn’t leave me. It was like trying to start a lawnmower after four or five times. It just wasn’t working,” Kyrgios said. “There was so much going on at home — my brother had a baby. my mom is sick It’s just hard being away. It definitely weighs on me every day that I’m on the road more. I just want to go home, sort of. But I know this is an important event here, so I just have to put them aside.”
Some players will never recognize looking at the draw to see what could happen down the road in a tournament. Kyrgios is not one of them.
He believes he and Kokkinakis were placed in a “big section” of the bracket, “so whoever moves forward has a great opportunity to capitalize.”
However, Kyrgios added: “Whether I win or lose, it will be the same for me. … It’s a win-win for me. If I win, it’s more money and another great result. If I lose, I’ll go home.”
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