Nick Kyrgios said he was ‘spiralling out of control’ after sudden rise to fame

Nick Kyrgios has opened up about his mental health struggles in new Netflix series <i>Break Point</i>.

Nick Kyrgios has opened up about his mental health struggles in new Netflix series Break Point.

“Tennis is like this: In two seconds, everything can change.”

Those words from Italian tennis player Matteo Berrettini in the Netflix docu-series Break Point, refer to the volatile nature of the game.

The same can be said of the defining moments that transform unknown players into sporting stars.

In the tennis world, lives can change with the swing of a racquet.

Aussie Nick Kyrgios is a prime example.

He bought himself a one-way ticket to stardom in 2014 when he defeated then-world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2014.

The shock win made headlines around the world, and overnight the 19-year-old boy from Canberra became one of Australia’s biggest sport stars.

Now aged 27 and an experienced player on the tour, Break Point gives a rare window into how the abrupt rise to fame took a toll on Kyrgios’ mental health.

“I was 19. I had my break out at Wimbledon and then that was it. My life changed,” he said.

“I went from no one knowing who I was to people camping outside my house. That match changed everything. Everything.

“From that day forth, the expectation for me to be the next big thing was massive.”

And from there, what ensued was sheer chaos.

The first four, five years of my career, it was just so chaotic,” Kyrgios said.

Kyrgios’ manager and mate Daniel ‘Horse’ Horsfall played a key role in his life at the time.

“When Horse was on tour with me, it was basically just him looking after me,” he said.

“He could just see my mental wellbeing just declining every week. My life was kind of spiralling out of control, drinking every single night.”

Nick Kyrgios

Life changed for Nick Krygios when he beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. Photo: Getty

Meanwhile, Horse was effectively his handler, making sure he kept up appearances.

“I used to have your location on my phone,” he said.

“Some mornings I’d have to physically go and find where you were, what hotel you were at, whose house you were staying at, before tournaments, before a match. It was tough.”

Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyrgios’ best friend and most recently his doubles partner, said their nights of partying were behind them – for the most part.

“We were so looking forward to the nights out. That was all that was fuelling you. I’ve definitely reined it back a notch since then,” Kokkinakis said.

“Definitely,” Kyrgios replied.

“However, I do want to bring it back for a small period,” Kokkinakis said, with a chuckle.

Darker days

Sitting among a collection of smashed and battered racquets at her Canberra home, Kyrgios’ mother Norlaila Kyrgios said her worries for her son were never-ending.

“I worry about him every day,” she said.

“Because he’s gone through some really unhappy times.”

Kyrgios spoke about his “very serious” mental health challenges with Wide World of Sports in May, revealing that it got “to the point of self-harm”.

“I guess I pushed everyone that cared about me away and I wasn’t communicating, and I just shut down real life and I was trying to handle and tackle my problems head on.”

His mother said this caused him to become “so aggressive”.

“He was just so angry, always angry at something,” she says, as the camera pans to piles of racquets heaped in piles around his childhood bedroom.

This has frequently materialised as on-court shenanigans, with Kyrgios no stranger to code violations for racquet tossing or colourful language.

Nick Kyrgios

Short-fused Kyrgios is no stranger to racquet smashing. Photo: Getty

Finding the light

Tennis players are notoriously tunnel-visioned and self-centred – and rightfully so.

If they’re not putting themselves first, in a way, they are inviting failure.

But Kyrgios has seemingly taken the opposite approach.

He says he has finally found his footing by putting himself and his family first, and tennis second.

“I was like, I can’t keep doing this. I just had to be kinder to myself, for my mental health,” he said.

He is often critiqued for his irregular playing schedule, with former world No.1 Andy Roddick saying in the series that Kyrgios views tennis as a “hobby”.

Instead of following the pack on the tour, Kyrgios opts into tournaments here and there.

But he says that’s what works for him.

“I could never be a player that played all year round. I couldn’t do that,” Kyrgios said.

“I value my family, my close friends and Cossie (girlfriend Costeen Hatzi) too much to put tennis in front of that anymore. I don’t think that’s healthy.”

Some say it’s this easygoing approach that led him and Kokkinakis to doubles victory at the 2022 Australian Open.

The pair were an absolute laugh on court, their goofy on-court celebrations something you’d perhaps expect to see after hours at your local community club.

Nick Kyrgios

The ‘Special Ks’ Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios celebrate their Australian Open doubles title. Photo: Netflix

It’s an astonishing turnaround for Kyrgios, who appeared to be on the verge of retirement at the beginning of the 2022 Australian Open.

“I don’t know if this is going to be the last time,” he said in Break Point, while having a practice hit.

“Nothing good lasts forever, yeah?”

The taste of victory may have very well been what took his career to greater heights throughout the rest of the year.

In July, Kyrgios played his first grand slam singles final at Wimbledon.

Though he eventually lost to Novak Djokovic in four sets, it was a major step forward in his career.

And on Friday night, he’ll take on Djokovic once more in a blockbuster exhibition match.

The Serbian star will be fighting for his 10th Australian Open title after visa troubles blocked him from competing in 2022.

And Kyrgios will no doubt be hoping to replicate his Wimbledon success – and perhaps even improve on it to clinch his first grand slam singles title.

Part one of Break Point is available to stream on Netflix Friday 13 January at 7pm.


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