Nick Kyrgios battled through a tough four-setter against Benjamin Bonzi on Wednesday at the US Open to reach the third round. Kyrgios and “scratching and clawing” for a win have not always gone hand in hand, but that is exactly what he did inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The 27-year-old is as motivated as ever.
“I feel like in this part of my career, I just don’t want to let people down. I feel like I’m representing so many people. I know how much work goes into it with my team, there’s a lot of people supporting me,” Kyrgios said. “I just remember doing a press conference here like maybe three or four years ago, I lost in the third round, I just felt horrible because I kept not exceeding expectations, winning.”
Kyrgios has done a lot of winning over the past two months. After advancing to his first major final at Wimbledon, he won the Citi Open for the second time and ousted World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in Montreal.
But with that success has come a realisation — Kyrgios has proven to himself he can make deep runs at the highest levels in the sport. That has led him to put more pressure on himself.
“I feel like this is probably the most pressure I’ve had on myself. I know that I’m capable of going to a Slam final now and I really want to achieve. I want to bring my team with me. I want to do it together,” Kyrgios said. “I’m definitely a perfectionist on the court. I feel like I can play like four or five great points, then I play one point and I’m going nuts. It’s okay, I don’t know. It’s hard.”
Kyrgios will be the first to admit he did not always do everything within his power to succeed on Tour. But that has changed this season, when Kyrgios has shown greater focus.
“This year’s been amazing in so many different ways. For my tennis, I kind of wanted to almost reinvent myself, get back to the top of the game where I know I belong,” Kyrgios said. “The Wimbledon final was a turning point I think for me mentally. If I won that match, I don’t know where my motivation would have been at. Losing it and being so close, it was really tough for me to kind of swallow that.”
Kyrgios was concerned that if he won Wimbledon, the pressure would be off. But if anything, falling short against Novak Djokovic in his first Grand Slam final has added fuel to the fire.
“I didn’t think I’d be putting this amount of pressure on myself. Every day I come in, I watch what I eat, I try and get sleep. Like every practice session I try and have good intent,” Kyrgios said. “I almost don’t know who I am anymore, to be honest, because that’s not me. Trying to balance so many different things out. It’s hard as well. The media, the fans are crazy everywhere I go. I’m trying to balance my personal life as well as my tennis. It’s just a lot.
“I feel like I’m really professional right now. I never thought that the Wimbledon final would make me that way. I thought it would be the other way, the reverse, almost a bit lax and a bit chilled with it.”
The Australian will play American J.J. Wolf on Friday for a place in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. If Kyrgios wins, he could play Medvedev in a fourth-round blockbuster.