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Nick Kyrgios Wants to be 'Better Player and Person' at Wimbledon

Nick Kyrgios (Photo Credit: Kyrgios Instagram)

Nick Kyrgios (Photo Credit: Kyrgios Instagram)

Having not played outside of Australia since February last year, Nick Kyrgios said he was a changed man.

Nick Kyrgios said on Saturday he “wants to be a better tennis player and a better person" at Wimbledon where he made his breakthrough as a brash teenager in 2014. The 26-year-old Australian firebrand famously defeated Rafael Nadal on his debut at the All England Club seven years ago on his way to the quarter-finals. Since that time, there have been seemingly endless spats with officials and other players, suspensions and fines. However, having not played outside of Australia since February last year, Kyrgios says he is changed man.

It’s a transformation partly sparked by a lengthy absence from the tour as his country battened down the hatches in the face of the pandemic.

“I want to be better as a tennis player and a person," said Kyrgios.

“I have reached a nice level of freedoom, nothing fazes me at all anymore and I feel I have more to give the game.

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“I feel a lot of people want me to play."

A former top 15 player, Kyrgios is now down at 61 in the world.

He has not played since the Australian Open in February where he let slip a two sets lead to lose to US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the third round.

On the way, he defeated France’s Ugo Humbert who he will now face in his Wimbledon opener.

“I definitely feel I could beat 50 percent of the draw on grass without much preparation," he claimed.

“I know for a fact that nobody here wanted to play me first round. I feel confident going into this match."

Kyrgios, who also made the last-eight of the Australian Open in 2015, has endured a roller-coaster relationship with Wimbledon.

After stunning Nadal on debut, he was then accused of not trying in a defeat to Richard Gasquet in 2015 before a tense rematch with Nadal two years ago.

Kyrgios had described the Spaniard of being “super salty" after a clash in Mexico with Nadal accusing the Australian of lacking “respect".

Kyrgios went down on Centre Court to his fifth defeat in eight meetings with the 20-time Slam winner, unapologetically spearing a shot at the former world number one in the process.

Kyrgios said he will take a laid-back approach to his return to the courts.

“I’m not a first, second or third year guy on tour. I don’t put pressure on myself, I want to have fun out there," said Kyrgios, a rare player who boasts a winning head-to-head — 2-0 — over world number one Novak Djokovic.

“It’s Wimbledon, the pinnacle of tennis. I want to get some strawberries, serve and volley and chill."

Ever the crowd favourite, Kyrgios revealed he will play mixed doubles at Wimbledon with Venus Williams.

“The mixed doubles pairing of the tournament," he said.

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first published:June 26, 2021, 22:51 IST