Nick Kyrgios has long been a controversial figure in tennis, famous as much for his racquet-smashing, on-court arguments and Twitter rants as for his ability to play the game. He has been labelled as modern-day John McEnroe – but without the major titles to his name.
At times he has appeared disenchanted with the game completely and demonstrably not tried on court, most recently at the US Open where the chair umpire received a subsequent ban for trying to gee-up a lacklustre Kyrgios during a second-round match.
Yet, for all his bad behaviour and abusive language, there also has been a sense of a talent wasted, and that, with the right attitude and application, the 23-year old would have had many more career titles to his name than the four he currently holds.
In part, he has struggled with injuries, which has seen him forced to miss tournaments, or go into matches not at his best, but injury goes with the territory for many players. It is how they deal with them that mark out the best from the also-rans.
Now, however, Kyrgios, whose best Grand Slam performances have been quarter-finals at Australian Open and Wimbledon, has acknowledged his own demons and begun to work with two psychologists, one in Australia and one overseas, and says that he is “trying to get on top of my mental health”.
In an interview with Australia’s Canberra Times he to Canberra Times:
“I probably left it a little too long. But I’ve been doing that and I feel more open about talking about it. I don’t feel that I’ve got to hide that stuff anymore.”
His frank admission that what happens off the court can have a direct impact on how he acts and behaves on it, throws, yet again, a direct spotlight on the issue of mental health and sports professionals, especially when it comes to men.
Global sports icons like Ian Thorpe, Michael Phelps, Oscar de la Hoya and Dwayne Johnson are just some of the names that have admitted to suffering with some form of depression and, as the topic becomes less taboo, more and more are speaking out every week.
Indeed a recent report has indicated that there might be a direct correlation between high performance sportsmen and prevalence to suffer with mental health issues.
Hopefully by admitting that he has a problem and being willing to work with mental health professionals, Kyrgios can not only avoid more serious problems down the line, but also begin to fully realise some of his immense talent.