Nick Kyrgios has fuelled retirement rumours by admitting he feels “strange” about his career. Having only played a handful of events in the last couple of years, the Aussie said he didn’t miss the tennis tour while away. Now ranked 77 in the world, he spoke in Washington ahead of his Citi Open title defence.
Kyrgios admitted that he feels every tournament he enters could be the last, as he opened up about his feelings on playing tennis.
The 26-year-old has barely been seen on the ATP Tour in recent months, playing the 2020 Australian Open ahead of the coronavirus pandemic and only returning at the same event a year later.
He’s now gearing up to defend his title in Washington, where he won two years ago, playing just his third event outside of his home country since the pandemic started.
The Australian player made his comeback at Wimbledon last month, entering the singles and the mixed doubles with Venus Williams but was forced to pull out with an injury.
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“In Atlanta I felt the same way. Washington. I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m at. I feel weird. I feel strange about my career at the moment.”
Despite his lack of attachment to playing tennis, the 26-year-old said he still “loved” being back.
“I love seeing all my mates on tour. I love getting in the gist. I just love interacting with fans these days. I know with COVID and stuff it’s risky. In Atlanta, I was interacting with my fans a lot just outside. I did about 45 minutes.
“I think it’s awesome. I think that’s for sure my favourite part of being back on tour, just seeing the fans, seeing the support. Yeah, the travel I don’t miss at all, but yeah.”
Calling himself a “part-time player”, he said the other players were even surprised he was back on the tour.
“Yeah, as I said, I don’t really play — I’m a part-time player I guess till at the moment. I played, like, five events in two years.
“Yeah, I don’t know. It feels still odd to be back. I just saw Dimitrov and stuff. They’re just like, Dude, I can’t believe it’s you on tour type thing.”
The former world number 13 also admitted that he wasn’t playing for himself, saying: “I feel as if I’m not playing for myself any more. I feel like I’m kind of playing for a lot of people who can relate to me,” he said.
Kyrgios’ comments come after he revealed his own mental health struggles, and said he felt as though he didn’t receive support like Naomi Osaka did when she spoke out recently.
The often-controversial Aussie felt as though the sport didn’t accept different personalities earlier in his career, but is now able to focus on the positives.
“I enjoy now playing just for fun. I really do enjoy just being around fans, just talking with them, getting to know what they do. It was just, like, some touching moments that I remember, my favourite parts of my career, just being with fans, giving them some hope.
“Well, the positive is, I don’t take any tournament for granted. I don’t take any match for granted any more. Every time I’m at an event, at a special one like this, I don’t take any day for granted. I love being around it. I try and soak in as much as I can. Just the practice, being around the courts, being at the highest level, I don’t take that for granted.”