Local favourite Nick Kyrgios said he was ‘shattered’ after the loss to World No. 1 Rafael Nadal on Monday in the fourth round clash but added he ‘made progress as a human’ after his promising Australian Open campaign ended.
The hot-headed Kyrgios was surprisingly calmer during his home Grand Slam, even as he lost in four sets 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4) loss on Rod Laver Arena.
“I’m shattered to have lost tonight. Obviously these are the matches that I want to win the most. But overall this (Australian) summer has been fun,” Kyrgios said.
The 24-year-old was deeply affected by the death of Kobe Bryant, and he arrived on the court wearing a Lakers shirt in tribute to the American great.
But he said the “horrendous” news had given him motivation for his match against Nadal, the world number one and 19-time Grand Slam winner.
“I feel like I’ve made progress as a human. A tennis player, I don’t really care about as much,” he said.
“I want to keep going in this direction, for sure… the trouble for me is being able to actually just produce the same attitude over and over again.
“I mean, hopefully, I can keep doing it. I’m just taking it day by day, trying to be positive, just bring positive vibes.”
Kyrgios gained a new respect for spearheading fundraising efforts for Australia’s deadly bushfires, a crisis which he said had given him a new perspective.
He was handed a suspended 16-week ban in September after a string of indiscretions and on-court meltdowns.
Kyrgios, who has said he prefers basketball to tennis, said of Bryant: “I don’t think they make them like him any more. He was different, the way he trained, the way he did things, the way he played.
“He was special. Just sad. When I think about (how) my life is literally basketball, it’s heavy. It’s tough.