There’s no one like Nick Kyrgios in the world of tennis right now, or possibly ever in the sport.
The Aussie is a polarizing figure due to his antics on and off the pitch that range from brilliant to downright bizarre.
There have been plenty of racquets broken over the years, in legal arguments and trick shots that have entertained crowds around the world.
But aside from that, he has been open and honest about the issues in the sport and also about his own mental health issues.
Kyrgios was a junior Grand Slam champion, winning the Australian Open juniors against his good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The natural talent was there to see and he turned pro in 2012 and it wasn’t long before he announced himself on the world stage.
In 2014, he beat world number one Rafael Nadal in the third round at Wimbledon en route to the quarter-finals.
We didn’t know what trajectory his career would take and we talked a lot about him as a future Slam winner.
The exciting brand of tennis he has played has made him popular with fans and he is probably one of the most naturally gifted people to pick up a racquet.
“He has as much talent if not more talent than [Roger] Federer or John McEnroe,” Greg Rusedski told talkSPORT.com in 2021. “But no matter how ridiculously talented you are, it’s not worth the hard work, the daily grind and the commitment.”
It’s this question about his commitment that has gotten him into trouble countless times over the years, even admitting in 2015 that he “don’t like sports” and would rather play basketball.
At Wimbeldon in 2015, he was blamed for losing in a third-round loss to Richard Gasquet when he appeared to be unserviceable. It would not be the first time in his career that he had been accused of this.
He caused further controversy the same year when he told Stan Wawrinka during a game that “Kokkinakis hit your girlfriend”. An incident for which he was later fined.
There’s a fine line that Kyrgios walks when it comes to these incidents and more often than not, it gets him in trouble.
He was banned for 16 weeks in 2019 when he argued with a referee at the Cincinnati Open where he called him a “f****** tool”. It also left him $167,000 less in his pocket after this incident.
It’s behavior like this, and breaking dozens of racquets seemingly at every tournament, that divides opinion, especially among tennis traditionalists.
Kyrgios has absolutely no filters and at times it has been necessary, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
He rightly called out Novak Djokovic for his controversial Adria tour at the height of the pandemic, which did not involve a mask or social distancing.
Try the underarm serve because the crowd shouted it ✅
Play the most laid back tween you’ll ever see ✅
Earn the point ✅
—Eurosport (@eurosport) January 18, 2022
** smashes the racket **
**kicks the water bottle**
**throws the chair**
Difficult day for Nick Kyrgios at the Italian Open. pic.twitter.com/7pHQDjFqe6
—ESPN (@espn) May 16, 2019
He called it a “stupid decision” and then called the 20-time Grand Slam winner a “tool”.
The comments got him in trouble with former UK number one Annabel Croft who said: “I don’t really respect him as a human being.”
Love him or hate him, he became a staple on the ATP tour and won his Grand Slam title, winning the Australian Open doubles crown with his great friend Kokkinakis.
He hit a career-high 13 in the rankings in 2016 and has won six career titles so far, most recently in August 2019.
Behind the jokes, the underarm serves, the racket swipes, and the inflammatory behavior, there’s someone who has struggled with their sanity.
Kyrgios recently opened up about his struggles and suicidal thoughts.
“Most would assume I was mentally fine or enjoying my life…it was one of my darkest times,” Kyrgios wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of himself coaching.
“If you look closely, on my right arm, you can see that I am self-harming. I was having suicidal thoughts and literally struggling to get out of bed, let alone performing in front of millions of people.
“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushing away my family and friends. I felt like I couldn’t talk to or trust anyone. It was the result of not s to open up and refuse to lean on my loved ones and just push myself little by little to be positive.
“I know that daily life can seem extremely exhausting, sometimes impossible. I understand that you feel like if you open up, it can make you feel weak or scared. I’m telling you right now, it’s OK, you’re not alone.
“I had those times when it seemed like those positive energy waves were never going to come true.”
He also recently praised and sympathized with Naomi Osaka for opening up about her own mental health experiences and struggles with the media.
“I felt like I was constantly playing so much under this mental stress and negativity that I really couldn’t function with the pressure anymore. I couldn’t function with the negativity,” the 26-year-old told reporters during Miami Open 2022.
Kyrgios added: “Every day was just constant negativity from you guys. [the media], possibly from my family, possibly from my friends, from everyone. There was no positivity, it was eating away at me and I honestly hated my life.
Whatever your opinion of Nick Kyrgios, he had a profound impact on the sport. He might be remembered as someone who never lived up to his potential, but it will be an entertaining ride.