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Kyrgios’s boozy journey to Wimbledon final

During the dark times, Nick Kyrgios would slam down 20 or 30 drinks a night.

Then he’d go out and play the following day – and often win.

Tennis’s greatest enigma even claims to have been out partying until four in the morning before his Wimbledon centre-court blockbuster with Rafael Nadal three years ago, although insiders say he was really playing video games in his room after clocking off at the famous Dog and Fox pub just before midnight.

Either way, Kyrgios was the loosest of loose cannons, combustible on court and self-destructive off it.

Looking back, he says it took him years to adjust to the world’s glare after unwittingly thrusting himself to instant super-stardom with his earth-moving fourth-round Wimbledon triumph over Nadal in 2014.

He walked on to tennis’s most hallowed court a little-known razor-haired 19-year-old world No.144 on debut at the All England Club.

Then he departed almost three hours later as the lowest-ranked player in 22 years years to remove a world No.1 from a grand slam draw.

“When I was 18, I was still at school in Canberra, playing tennis. It changed when I played Nadal at Wimbledon,” Kyrgios told the mental health podcast ‘Turn Up the Talk podcast last month.

“I came home and there were reporters outside my home and I was just a normal kid from Canberra and didn’t know how to deal with it.”

Kyrgios first revealed his suicidal thoughts in February via social media but he’d been battling for years before that.

“I’ve ridden the roller coaster my entire life,” he said.

“I struggled, I definitely struggled. I was just a normal kid from Canberra who was travelling overseas at 14 and it was massively eye-opening to see.

“I’m 27 years old but I feel so old, like with the amount I’ve seen and how much I’ve dealt with.

“It was tough because then I started dealing with all this negativity that I don’t think anybody knows how to deal with in this day and age, especially in social media and all that type of s***.

“I just really struggled and was getting told ‘you’re the next big thing in tennis’ and I had all these large shoes to fill and I kept trying, trying, trying but it kept snowballing into this big dark cloud.

“It was hard but I had a good team to help me try to navigate through it. But I had to figure it out myself.”

The prodigious talent hit rock bottom in 2019.

“I had one of my best results year on tour – obviously I learned pretty early on that winning seems to cure everything,” Kyrgios said.

“Everyone thinks you’re doing fine but that was a such dark year for me – everything with the bushfires and I was trying to help with that.

“Honestly, I was in just the worst possible mindset at that time. I was obviously self-harming in the photo and I was almost scared to share how I was feeling because I don’t think Nick Kyrgios was able to feel that way.

“I didn’t think anyone would respect me if I felt that way. But I shared this post recently and think the amount of messages I got from that and how many people I helped, I go it on myself to try and help replying to people because I know everyone is dealing with something.

“I feel I never judge anybody any more because I’ve done some terrible things, some dark things, I’ve been through so much, all my goal now is to guide people through it.

“It was brutal for me. It was so hard, I felt so alone even to the point of self-harm and thinking about committing suicide. It was tough.

“But then winning tournaments seemed to mask it all and that was the darkest thing ever. Winning tournaments for millions of dollars and having no stresses in the world and I didn’t even want to get out of bed.

“I was probably drinking every night, no word of a lie, 20 to 30 drinks every night in my room on my own, waking up and then playing,” Kyrgios recalled.

“In Acapulco, I was in my room drinking, about to play my first round, and literally contemplating whether I wanted to even live at that point – and was about to play and I was standing on the balcony and my trainer says we’ve got to play in 10 minutes. I won that tournament.”

Kyrgios’s relationship with new girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, who he started dating late last year, has been a game changer.

He no longer wants to be the party bee, preferring the quiet life and even spurning celebrations with Thanasi Kokkinakis after winning this year’s Australian Open doubles crown with his great mate.

On Friday, two days before the match of his life, Kyrgios walked past the Dog and Fox but ignored punters’ pleas to join them for a drink to pop into a nearby coffee shop instead.

“I just feel like I’m more mature,” Kyrgios said.

“Earlier in my career if I made a third, fourth or quarter-finals, I’d be on my phone a lot, I would be engaging online a lot, keen to go out to dinner and explore, not conservatively just go back to my house at Wimbledon with my team, put my feet up, get treatment and eat, get good rest.

“I think everyone has the same goal in my team. That’s why it’s working. We all know what we’ve come here to do … to go pretty deep here and possibly even raise the trophy. I’ve made that pretty known.”

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