Nick Kyrgios gets real on 'going against the grain': 'Classy on court is not me'

Kyrgios opens up on accepting his true self and becoming happier on the court.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Nick Kyrgios gets real on 'going against the grain': 'Classy on court is not me'
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Nick Kyrgios says the moment he decided to just be himself and not try to force himself into being a classy tennis player was the moment he became happier on the court. 

Kyrgios, who will be turning 29 in April, drew major attention to himself in his early days on the Tour. On the court, it didn't take long before Kyrgios beat the likes of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer but it was his behavior that was constantly drawing him media criticism and backlash. 

Over the years, Kyrgios has tried numerous times to explain that he is actually a very nice and caring guy off the court but that his emotional on-court outbursts and meltdowns are just a product of him being passionate about winning. 

In the latest episode of his podcast "Good Trouble with Nick Kyrgios" - which was launched in collaboration with Naomi Osaka's production company Hana Huma - the Australian tennis star hosted British author and podcaster Jay Shetty. At one point during the conversation, Shetty started to explain how people who have different views or perspectives are usually referred to as "going against the grain."

"Going against the grain, the more that I was normal and put into like well behaved or a good, classy, not-rough-around-the-edges. Just a normal tennis player that was, for me, going against the grain," Kyrgios said on Good Trouble with Nick Kyrgios.

"So I actually have spent my entire life trying to be something that I'm not which was trying to be a classy tennis player and carry myself like a true gentleman, which I am but on the court I'm not. So it's like that was against the grain for me but then when I started just being myself I started finding some happiness."

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Kyrgios opened up big time when he was a guest on Shetty's podcast

Before hosting Shetty on his podcast, Kyrgios was a guest on the Briton's podcast in December. During their first conversation, Kyrgios opened up and spoke very candidly about his media image and everything that he has heard people say about him over the years. 

Reflecting on being heavily scrutinized and criticized by the media, Kyrgios admitted it was "hard" and being labeled as "the bad boy of tennis" was something that was deeply hurting him. And the reason why it was hurting Kyrgios so much was the fact that he felt he was "the exact opposite" of the term bad boy. 

"Yeah, it's been hard. That's one thing the media has done," Kyrgios said on Purpose with Jay Shetty in late 2023.

"They've branded me as. You know, I don't know, like I'm crazy. I'm a bad boy, but my family and my closest people know that I'm quite generous. I'm quite caring. I'm intellectually switched on. I like having deep conversations and I try my best to make other people feel comfortable. Like I know what it's like to be overweight, insecure.

"Like I love when I see kids that are a bit like. I guess myself at a younger age, I love that. I go up to them, I make them feel, look, if I can do it, you can do it. So that's been one of the hardest things in my career is like everyone I meet thinks that I'm just a bad person. I've got crazy tempo, but then off the court, it's like a complete opposite person.

"And it's been really, really hard to shake that. And it's taken years. Like only now I feel like people kind of understand how I am on the court and how I am off the court, but it's been, it's been hard."

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Over the last few years, Kyrgios has spoken candidly several times about the period in 2019 when he was battling severe depression and even suicidal thoughts. During his appearance on Shetty's podcast, Kyrgios admitted that everything that the media and people were writing and saying about him played a part in him finding himself in a very dark place. 

But now, Kyrgios is in a completely different situation as he has worked on himself and he is now in a much better place and living a much happier life. Also, Kyrgios' image has changed for the better in the last few years and that is certainly something that is making the 28-year-old Australian happy. 

Meanwhile, Kyrgios remains sidelined due to his ongoing wrist injury. After playing just one tournament in 2023 due to knee and wrist surgeries, Kyrgios is also missing the start of the 2023 season. 

In his interviews from January, Kyrgios hinted that he absolutely won't rush his comeback and that his comeback will likely happen sometime around Wimbledon or the US Open. In recent months, there were some rumors of Kyrgios possibly retiring but the Australian tennis star shut down those talks by saying he would definitely be back. 

Nick Kyrgios
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