Kyrgios: ‘I'm Playing For A Lot More Than Myself’
Aussie reflects on bushfires, ATP Cup ahead of Australian Open
It has been an emotional build-up to the Australian Open for Nick Kyrgios this year, with the Canberra native lending his support to bushfire relief off the court and helping his nation to reach the semi-finals of the inaugural ATP Cup in front of home fans.
But while those efforts have left the 24-year-old searching for a balance in recent weeks, Kyrgios believes that playing for a greater purpose has elevated his game.
“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,” said Kyrgios.
“But 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.”
The World No. 26 will continue to donate AUD $200 to aid bushfire relief for every ace he serves during this year’s opening major championship and his charitable efforts have also inspired a number of fellow players to make similar donations.
Kyrgios was also present at Rally For Relief on Wednesday, a fundraising event at Rod Laver Arena which helped raise almost AUD $5 million for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. The six-time ATP Tour titlist’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by fans at Melbourne Park, with Kyrgios feeling he has received ‘maybe a little’ more support than usual as he makes his final preparations for the tournament.
“Every time I play here, I'm well-supported,” said Kyrgios. “All my practices are pretty full. I think people are excited to see me.
“I guess with everything going on, the other stuff outside tennis, maybe that's more what they support rather than my tennis itself. Everything I'm doing is just because I care.”
The ATP Cup provided Australian players with the unique experience of playing for their country on home soil ahead of the Australian Open. Kyrgios won three of his four matches at the innovative team event, his only tournament appearance ahead of the Australian Open.
“I really enjoyed [the ATP Cup]. I think a lot of players did. For the first time they've had it, I think it was a success,” said Kyrgios. “I really thought it was awesome. I think a lot of my teammates loved it, as well.
“Just any time you get the chance to play in front of your home crowd, feel the energy like that, it's pretty special.”
After the intensity of the ATP Cup, Kyrgios has enjoyed spending time on the practice court with fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson. The 2015 quarter-finalist will be aiming to improve his 11-6 record at Melbourne Park this year.
“[I have been] feeling good [in the] past couple days. I've hit with my good friend, Thompson. Having a good time,” said Kyrgios.
Kyrgios will open his campaign against Lorenzo Sonego of Italy. The top-ranked Australian in this year’s draw beat Sonego in their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting at last year’s Western & Southern Open in straight sets.
“Sonego is a tough competitor,” said Kyrgios. “I played him in Cincinnati last year. It was a tough match. Very capable player. Big serve. Loves to hit his forehand.”
With the feeling of playing for a bigger cause and the support of a nation as the top-ranked Australian in the draw, could Kyrgios be ready for another deep run at this year’s event?