© Hiroshi Sato

Nick Kyrgios this week will pursue his second Tokyo title.

Kyrgios On What Has 'Added A Bit Of Fuel To Me'

Australian is seeded fifth in Tokyo

In his most recent previous media availability, a “devastated” Nick Kyrgios rued a missed opportunity in the US Open quarter-finals. After a fourth-round victory against then-World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, the Aussie lost a five-setter to Karen Khachanov in New York.

“It was heart-breaking, obviously,” Kyrgios said in a pre-tournament press conference at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. “At the US Open I had so much expectation after I beat Medvedev. The draw kind of opened up and I just didn't take advantage of it.”

But the defeat did little to affect the hunger of this year’s Wimbledon finalist and Washington champion, who enters Tokyo as the World No. 20.

“It kind of added a bit of fuel to me,” the 27-year-old said. “I’ve been working hard ever since I lost to Khachanov. I went back home, had a couple of days off then got straight back out on the court.”

As the lone returning champion or finalist in this week’s singles draw, the 2016 Tokyo titlist is eager to get back to winning ways at the ATP 500 event.

“There are so many opportunities to have great weeks during the year. This is, in the scheme of things, quite a big tournament,” he said.

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“It's easy to get motivated for tournaments like this. The people are great, the atmosphere's great. I've had great memories here before,” he added. “I'm super excited to be here, that's for sure. I had this circled on my calendar all year.”

Being in Japan, the fifth-seeded Australian was also asked for his thoughts on some of the sport’s local superstars.

On Nishioka, who enters Tokyo after winning his second ATP Tour title in Seoul, Kyrgios said: “I grew up with Yoshi since we were about 14 years old. He was always really talented and I always knew he was going to be a very good player on the professional circuit. His game style is very tough. If you're not able to play big tennis and serve well, he's got a good chance to win any match because he's very fast, he makes a lot of balls.

“When I play him, I try to serve really big and make the points very short. I think this year he's had a great year. He's going to be playing with a lot of confidence this week, obviously in front of his home crowd, as well. He's going to be definitely a dangerous player for the rest of the season, that's for sure. He's more than capable of winning more tournaments.”

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On Osaka, whose new sports agency, Evolve, signed Kyrgios as its first athlete in June: “Naomi, I love what she brings to the sport. I think she's an amazing athlete. She can play some great tennis, but what she can do off the court is even more inspirational. She has so many people looking up to her. She inspires millions of people and I think that's something that I bring, as well.”

Kyrgios also spoke about a player who is not competing this week: former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori, who withdrew from the Tokyo event as he works his way back from January hip surgery.

“I get asked so many times who I think is the hardest player to play. For me personally, Kei is a nightmare matchup for me. He returns extremely well, he plays so aggressive from the back of the court. He's very tricky and I haven't had much success against him at all," Kyrgios said. “It's unfortunate to not see him around because, as probably one of the best Asian players ever to play, you want to see these types of players in these tournaments... He's a great guy, he's well-liked in the locker room, he's super friendly. I hope to see Kei back on Tour as soon as possible, he's definitely a big part of it.”

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