Nick Kyrgios will play for the first time since his Australian Open doubles title at next week’s Indian Wells Masters, the scene of one of his biggest victories.
The Australian tennis star’s singles ranking is in free fall at No.134 but he remains one of the tour’s most marketable players, which helped him score wildcards into the Indian Wells and Miami events.
Kyrgios last played at the Californian tournament, often referred to as the ‘fifth major’, in 2019 and his best result there was reaching the quarter-finals in 2017 before retiring before a clash with Roger Federer.
He made it to the last eight that year with consecutive upsets of Alex Zverev then Novak Djokovic, who he boasts a 2-0 head-to-head record against.
Kyrgios will likely rely on a series of wildcards to supercharge his ranking and avoid having to grind away on the secondary ATP Challenger tour unless he can make a splash in the next month.
The 26-year-old didn’t make himself available for Davis Cup duty, with Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt saying he “had a meeting in America” but was still a first-choice player for his country.
“The last two years have been tough for him, because Nick enjoys being home and he doesn’t like travelling all the time,” Hewitt said.
“It’s pretty tough being an Australian player, especially the last two years of the pandemic and not being able to come back every three, four, five weeks. So it wasn’t ideal for him.
“He’s fortunate, though, as you can see at the Australian summer, that he can pick up a racket and still go out there and compete with the best players with very limited matches under his belt
“Not many players can do that. For him to get to his absolute best, though, he does need to get those matches. I still think he’ll pick and choose where he wants to play, though.”
Hewitt, like others in the tennis community, has come to terms with Kyrgios’ different motivations for playing the sport.
“In a lot of ways, he plays for different reasons than a lot of other guys. He’s not driven by the majors and winning the titles all the time,” he said.
“Sometimes, it’s for the entertainment and the enjoyment that he gets of going out there and playing. It’s up to him at the end of the day where that motivation comes from.”
Kyrgios revealed on social media in recent weeks that he had periods in previous years where he “self-harmed” and had “suicidal thoughts” but was proud to reveal he had “completely turned myself around”.
Andy Murray, who has joined forces again with Ivan Lendl, and Americans Jack Sock and Sam Querrey also received wildcards into Indian Wells.