Tennis Champion Nick Kyrgios Opens Up About the Darkest Period in His Life, “No one knew”

published: Dec, 11, 2023

by: TC Staff

Courtesy of On Purpose with Jay Shetty.

In the latest episode of On Purpose with Jay Shetty, world-ranking professional tennis player Nick Kyrgios joins the podcast. Nick burst onto the pro tennis scene in 2012 after a prolific junior tennis career. Since his start he has captivated fans with a larger than life personality, passion for the game, and unpredictability. Kyrgios has won 7 singles titles and 4 doubles titles in his career, but 2022 marked the first time Kyrgios displayed his dominance making it to his first Grand Slam Final, winning 3 singles titles, and 3 doubles titles. He also reached the Quarter Finals of the 2022 US Open beating then-ranked No. 1 Daniil Medvedev and is one of the few players on Tour who have beaten the Big Three (Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal) at least once. You can listen to the episode here: Tennis Champion Nick Kyrgios Opens Up On His Darkest Days “No one knew…”.

In this conversation, Nick opens up about how his strong personality online has sparked hate and negativity – how misunderstood his persona is and how different he is with friends and family.

 

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Nick also briefly talks about going through self-harm, dealing with depression and addiction and turning the most difficult phase of his life into a pivotal moment to have the best year of his life when he reached the Wimbledon final. He also talks about looking at life beyond tennis and what awaits him in the future.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How to accept your flaws
  • How to overcome fear and anger
  • How to turn your life around
  • How to deal with negativity
  • How to become your best self

A truly inspiring story begins with a challenge and ends with a triumph, and Nick has just proven to us that success isn’t elusive when you dream big and work hard for it.

2:43 – A love/hate relationship with tennis

Jay Shetty: Externally, you’ve had what looks like a love hate relationship with tennis. And at this point you’re injured. You’ve been away from the game. I’m intrigued to understand how has your relationship with the game changed when you haven’t been able to play it?

Nick Kyrigos: This is a tough one for me because when I step away from the sport for so long, I actually don’t miss it. So that’s scary for me. You know, most athletes, when they get pulled away from their sport injury or take time off, they’re like really hungry to get back with me. It’s like, I’ve always kind of known that life has so many…so many cool things about it, you know, and tennis, you know, we’re traveling seven, eight months a year. I barely see my family, my friends. And during this time, it’s like, I get to see, spend time with my partner more, my family, do all these things that I’ve been missing out on. It’s like, wow, this, my life’s amazing now, but you know, I do miss playing tennis a bit, you know, it’s all I’ve ever known since I was seven years old, you know, my family loves it, you know, all my friends, you know, know me as Nick Kyrgios, tennis player.

So I do miss it a little bit, but at the same time, I’ve really enjoyed the time off.

Jay Shetty: Yeah, I’m glad to hear that. It’s good for the honesty, I think, you know, like people, people forget that we’re human and we need a break sometimes. What’s your earliest childhood memory that you think has defined who you are today?

Nick Kyrigos: Well, I hated tennis when I was young. So, you know, I was very chubby, overweight as a kid. And my mom kinda, she was like, okay, we’ve got to get you doing some, some, some sport or be active. So she dragged me down to the local tennis courts. And I remember I was crying all day, hated it. Didn’t want to be there anyway.

I gave it a chance for like, you know, a couple of weeks, couple of months. And the coach was like, Oh, he’s picking it up pretty quickly. And then that was, I guess that was a defining moment because ever since that coach said that it’s like my father and my mom put everything into it. tennis, you know, they sacrificed, you know, my dad and my mom had nothing growing up.

And I guess they kind of saw me as the person in the family to eventually, you know, try and make it and help and help them out and help the family out. So look, tennis was, it was such a interesting journey. You know, I never thought I was 17, 18, still in school. And people were telling me, you could really do something.

I never took myself seriously enough to one day be on the tour, beating people like Djokovic, Nadal, Federer. It was just never in my mind. And then all of a sudden it just happened. And my life changed. It’s like, I have big imposter syndrome. Like I’m sitting here. I watch you, my bed in my house in Canberra.

I’m watching you. And then now all of a sudden I’m here having a conversation. Like that’s just, for me, its crazy.

5:07 – Being labeled as the Bad Boy of Tennis

Jay Shetty: Well, dude, I feel the same with you. I’m watching you play all the major tournaments and watching you on Breakpoint. And I still have to pinch myself that I get to do this. So. The feeling is very mutual.

And I want you to know that too. Like, and, you know, a big part of that for me watching you is I think, and I chose not to introduce you this way, but I think a lot of people would introduce you as the bad boy of tennis. How does that title make you feel today?

Nick Kyrigos: Yeah, it’s been hard. That’s one thing the media has done.

They’ve branded me as. You know, I don’t know, like I’m crazy. I’m a bad boy, but my family and my closest people know that I’m quite generous. I’m quite caring. I’m intellectually switched on. I like having deep conversations and I try my best to make other people feel comfortable. Like I know what it’s like to be overweight, insecure.

Like I love when I see kids that are a bit like. I guess myself at a younger age, I love that. I go up to them, I make them feel, look, if I can do it, you can do it. So that’s been one of the hardest things in my career is like everyone I meet thinks that I’m just a bad person. I’ve got crazy tempo, but then off the court, it’s like a complete opposite person.

And it’s been really, really hard to shake that. And it’s taken years. Like only now I feel like people kind of understand how I am on the court and how I am off the court, but it’s been, it’s been hard.

Jay Shetty: How early did that title like that idea of Nick Kyrgios meltdown again, Nick Kyrgios break, breaks a racket, like whatever, like how early did that set in and how did that impact it?

Nick Kyrigos: Probably the first couple of years I was on tour. And that was almost 11 years ago and it’s been an uphill battle ever since. You know, everyone thinks that I’m. That type of person, but it’s like, I’ve gone through my whole life trying to prove to people that that’s not me and it’s been really hard, like all the media backlash, the negativity, all the negativity on my family, my partner, like it’s not, it hasn’t been so easy to navigate.

But I think getting older and growing through it and getting thick skin, I’ve kind of given up trying to, you know, make everyone understand who I am because it’s exhausting and it’s, I don’t think it’s possible. Everyone’s going to have their opinions, but it’s taken a toll. Like, I’m definitely a bit tired of being branded that.

And it’s sad in a way because people only really want to get to meet me, to meet that side of me, which is not how I actually am as a person.

Jay Shetty: How much of it early on was self inflicted versus was that just you trying to deal with the pressure and the stress? Like why did that? I’ve, so I’ve met you just now.

You’re smiling. You’re easy to be around. You’re chill. You’re cool. When we were messaging, I was telling my team, I was like, this guy seems like one of the nicest guys, like everything you just said. But then when someone watches you on the court or watches you in a press interview, you could be intimidating.

How much of that became a persona you felt you ended up playing versus where did it actually. stop. Was it that you were stressed and there was pressure or?

Nick Kyrigos: Well, I guess, yeah, when I’m on court, I turn into a different person. Like I love competing and it’s like, I hate losing. And I guess when I, even when I was a younger kind of kid on the court, I always carried my emotions.

I would cry on court. I would scream. I would just, I’d love to compete and hate to lose. And I guess I never changed. Like whether it’s me now, I don’t cry on court now, but I still am very emotional. And I just. It just shows how much I care. I feel like it was a way for me to outlet the pressure, you know, get angry or smash a racket.

But the thing is tennis can go for four or five hours, a match go for four or five hours. And then for that small snippet of time, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, I’m losing my mind. And that’s all they’re showing. Like if you just show 30 minutes of a four hour match, then everyone’s going to show you, Oh, that’s how he’s carrying on for four hours.

Like the majority of the time, I’m well behaved, great competitor, respecting my opponent. And then. I look, I turn on, you know, say the TV, it’s just me smashing a rack and I’m like, I can’t control that. And it’s been, it’s been hard. Like most of the time I am how I am now, but it’s been a tough one.

Like the majority of the time I’m well behaved, great competitor, respecting my opponent. And then. I look, I turn on, you know, say the TV, it’s just me smashing a rack and I’m like, I can’t control that. And it’s been, it’s been hard. Like most of the time I am how I am now, but it’s been a tough one.

Jay Shetty: You were saying I’ve watched how you talked about how it’s impacted you. It’s impacted how people communicate with your girlfriend, like the kind of backlash that you receive. What has been the darkest, hardest period of dealing with that? Whether it may be a media narrative or, fans reaching out, whatever it may be.

Nick Kyrigos: Yeah, in 2019, I’ve opened up about some of the darkest periods of my life. And I just. It was so accessible, all these negative comments, you know, you go on your phone now, you open up social media, Instagram, Twitter, all this. And I just say millions of messages that were negative, negative about my family, like just things that I feel like I didn’t ever really listen to, but they just went into the back of my mind and subconsciously they’re just there.

And then when things start happening, you’re like, maybe they’re right. You start doubting yourself. And I feel like that’s what I fell into was like, Oh, maybe they are right. And then I started feeling really negatively about myself and I started. all these bad habits happening and it was impossible for me to deal with.

I was 19 at the time when this all started happening and I wasn’t prepared for such a, I guess such a hard time. Like I was just enjoying myself. I had normal friends and then I went from being in school to now being on the global stage in the spotlight and it was just impossible for me to deal with. I never really dealt with it, in a healthy way at all.

10:18: Darkest time of his life in 2019

Jay Shetty: You talked about in Breakpoint about drugs, alcohol. Isolating yourself, you talk about even considering attempting suicide, and then we hear that you locked into a psych ward, but we don’t really realize what you went through. Like walk us through what it felt like to be Nick Kyrgios in 2019.

Nick Kyrigos: It’s just, I think about those times and I don’t necessarily feel sad about them or happy about them. It’s just like that part of my life is over and it’s just a mess. Like I think about that time, I just was not thinking clearly. I was drinking every night. You know, just at the time I thought it was just fun, but it wasn’t fun.

It was just self inflicted pain. And I had friends around me telling me it wasn’t healthy and I ignored them. And then I found myself going to a psychiatric ward in London and I had to play an Nadal the next day. And these are the things like. Everyone would assume that I was doing fine. I was answering questions and they told me that I should stay in this psychiatric ward for two weeks and be reassessed.

And I was playing Nadal the next day. It’s like, I looked at myself. I was like, I can’t do this. I have to somehow change these habits. So I had self harm everywhere. I had to wear an arm sleeve on the center court of Wimbledon and no one knew any of these problems. And it was, it was hard. And I look back and I just don’t know how I like got out of it to be honest, I was such a mess.

And the worst thing was the media, I was having decent results during that time. And the media was like, okay, is this a new Nick Kyrgios? Is this the Nick Kyrgios? And I was like, this is the darkest period of my life. There was a tournament in Mexico, Acapulco, where I was thinking about, I was having suicidal thoughts and, you know, I was just on the balcony of my hotel and I was genuinely thinking about it.

And my team was like, Oh, we’ve got to play in 10 minutes. And then I’m going out on court, played amazing, won the tournament. And everyone globally was thinking, wow, is this the person that we’ve all been waiting for when I was really on the brink of everything. And that’s so scary because no one else knew what was going on. It was really hard.

Jay Shetty: I mean, that paradox of feeling that way and then having to play the biggest games and then even winning some of them, but then feeling that way when you’re off court again, that sounds like one of the most difficult, like, just, just listening to you right now, I’m listening to that going.

I was just putting myself in that position thinking you’re sitting and standing there at the balcony. Like, I can’t imagine what’s going through your mind. How did you break through that? Like, how did, how was that not the end? Because I feel there’s so many people listening right now who might be feeling like you were then.

And I want you to talk to them. I want them to hear you right now because I want this to be the message that they say, that got me through it.

Nick Kyrigos: Just everyone, I felt like I was very selfish at that time, I was always giving in to my feelings, which were, they were probably valid, but I felt like I was playing just based on how I felt, and then I looked back at millions of fans that I have, and that I, you know, for instance, there was a Make A Wish kid that I met up with a week and a half ago, he’s probably got six months to live, and then I realized that those types of people that look up to me and really want me to succeed, that’s who I started playing for, so family, these, Like kids, the future generation.

That’s the reason why I probably would have retired and probably stopped playing a couple of years ago if, if I just kept playing on how I was feeling. But then I realized I’ve got a whole contingent of fans on why they want to see me succeed. So that’s why I love playing now. Like I play for them, but that’s what got me out of it.

I started feeling like I’ve got a lot more to give. Not, not for me, like I’ve already proved myself that I can play tennis, but for all those people out there, like if I can do it, like you look at Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, like these people are gods in my eyes. Like they’re super professional, Djokovic takes care of his diet daily.

I was not doing any of these things and still getting to that level. So I think if just the inspiration for other people got me out of that, but it was really those times. And there are definitely times now where I think about. And I’m, I guess I still get a bit emotional on it. Like Breakpoint obviously showed interviews with my sister and my father and my best friend, and they break down into tears and that just shows how emotional that time was cause they could just see me spiraling out of control. And I hadn’t, I didn’t think it was okay to just step back and not play. I had, I kept thinking I had to force myself to get out there. Yeah, it definitely was traumatizing.

Jay Shetty: How much did it mean to you that they stood by you?

Nick Kyrigos: Yeah, I mean, I probably owe them my life to be honest, you know, they were standing by me through reckless behavior and that’s what I’m, everything, that’s what I mean, like people now I go on social media and they’re like, Oh, you’re a waste of talent or why are you not playing or why are you not doing this?

And I’m everything I’m doing now is just a bonus. Like being here, speaking to Jay Shetty for me, it’s just, that’s like a, it’s like all a bonus. Like every day I just don’t think about the past. I don’t think about the future. I just live every day, day by day. And I just, everything I’m doing now is just a bonus.

Like, cause I was so depressed and so sad. And like, I literally wanted to end my life and now I just, I’m just. here and enjoying it. So everything’s just, it’s all a bonus.

Jay Shetty: That’s a beautiful way to live. It’s a beautiful mindset to live in.

17:02 -Making it through Wimbledon finals

Jay Shetty: With you, when you’re playing at the top level and there is that feeling so When you find out you’re going to make it, you’ve made it through to the final of Wimbledon, walk me through what the feeling is when you know, like, I’ve made it through to the final of Wimbledon, like, which is the biggest stage, the biggest moment you’ve made it through. What does that feel like?

Nick Kyrigos: I was laughing inside. Like I was, I had Novak Djokovic behind me, uh, the Royal family watching me play and there’s like guards there. And I’m just like thinking to myself, I don’t, this shouldn’t be me. Like the way that. Everything had panned out. It was like, I just thought it was all a joke.

I was like, this is incredible. How, how am I here in this moment in time? And yeah, I was walking out to the court and I just. Yeah, like it’s like every single thing that I’d gone through, training, family sacrifice, it all, that’s the one time in my life where everything made sense. Everything made sense.

Every gym session, conditioning session, every good meal I decided to eat, was all equal to that moment in time. And it’s like I didn’t sleep the night before and then as soon as I stepped on court, all those feelings went away. It was like, okay, now I’m home. And then I lost the match, but I played incredible.

It was a great final, but I just remember seeing the doors open real slowly. And I saw every blade of grass, the same length. And I just walked out there and it was just like home. And then that was it. I just, I’m not disappointed that I lost the match. Obviously I would love to have a Wimbledon crown, but it was all a bonus.

The fact that I was just walking out, Novak’s behind me, the royal family’s there, like Nick Kyrgios making it that far. Ridiculous.

Jay Shetty: When I hear you speak, you speak like every, almost like real. It’s almost like that childlike feeling of like, you’re still living in that childlike moment or childlike feeling of what that would have felt like, where sometimes we grow up too soon and we almost can’t experience it that way.

And when you just said you saw every blade of grass being the same, like even that mindfulness, like watching the doors, the fact that you can visualize it, it means you were so present. What. goes through your mind during the game when it’s not going your way, like what happens when you start losing a point or when you know you could have made something you didn’t, like, what’s going through your mind at that time?

Nick Kyrigos: Just competing, like, just trying to get the best out of myself. Like, I guess people when they watch me play, like, why you get so angry? It’s like, there’s millions of dollars on the line. So many hours of work put in, and I’m just trying to like do the best I can in that moment of time. Like people, when they see me, I guess, getting angry or doing whatever, they’re like, Oh, he doesn’t care.

It’s like, I think I care too much at times on the result. And coaches always told me like, don’t care about the result too much. But in my life, my experience, if you don’t win at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be here. If I didn’t win majority of tennis matches, I wouldn’t be sitting here. So I know the importance of winning, but at the same time, I guess I’m just so involved in every little bit of efforts being, I know my, my family’s effort, my support crew. I want everyone in my team to feel that I care the most. I want to like success for all of us, not, I don’t care about just me, like my physio is there. My partner is there. My best friend, my agent, like we’re all contingent.

And that’s why I guess I love the team environment a little bit more, but tennis is. People just think you’re on your own out there, but it’s like, there’s so much more than just me, like everyone’s put so much work in to get here.

Jay Shetty: So your anger is actually your care?

Nick Kyrigos: Exactly. I wanted to win Wimbledon so then my whole team, like can share that with me.

I don’t really care. Like I actually don’t really care. And I wanted to win Wimbledon so I could just shut everyone up and so I could be just left alone. So if I’m at home and I’m actually having a beer or I’m just chilling, people will just, Oh, what are you doing? I’m like, I won Wimbledon. Like, you can’t tell me anything.

You’re in like, you’re immortal in that tennis world, you know? Like I made the final and people still criticize me. I feel like if I’d won that, maybe it would stop.

Jay Shetty: So you feel like when you’re playing, you’re trying to win because you feel so many people have invested in you and so many people believe in you, the people that you care about. And that you almost want to win for them.

Nick Kyrigos: Yes, and to shut everyone else up as well. That would be nice.

Jay Shetty: false hope, I guess. What is that false hope? Walk me through that because I think that’s real. I think. We all feel, right, this is, this is, this is the hypothesis. We all feel that there’s something we can do that will finally convince people of who we are. And we’re all waiting in our own way to do that thing.

For you, it may be a game of tennis. For someone else, it might be a promotion. For someone, it will be graduating with a particular degree. For me, it will be interviewing someone, whatever. Like, we all have that thing where we think, When I do this, then people will say I made it. [00:22:00] Why is that?

Nick Kyrigos: I don’t know. I feel like if people really understood my journey, then they wouldn’t be so pushy, I think.

And like, if I just sat down with all my haters and we had like a nice meal together and I gave them my side of the story, I think they’d have a better understanding and they wouldn’t be so like, they wouldn’t criticize or be so like aggressive towards me on social media or just in general. So I feel like maybe if I do win Wimbledon and like it’s, I was so close and I don’t even really love the sport.

Like I’m only doing this because I love taking care of my family, my people, and I want to do this so I can prove that no matter how much more of an underdog you are, you can achieve something like winning Wimbledon. Like that’s, I never thought in my mind that I’d be capable of doing that. And look, maybe you are right.

I know that even if I did that, people are going to be like, all right, now do it again. And it’s just like, that’s, I guess that’s the rat race of, of life, you know, how much is enough. And I feel like I’m very content with my life now. I have more than enough to enjoy. And so if it was up to me, I probably wouldn’t, I don’t really want to play anymore to be honest, but I have to almost, I’ve got so much more to give.

But for me, I’m, I’m, I don’t, I don’t feel the pain anymore.

21:23- Convincing the haters

Jay Shetty: What is that false hope? Walk me through that because I think that’s real. I think. We all feel, right, this is, this is, this is the hypothesis. We all feel that there’s something we can do that will finally convince people of who we are. And we’re all waiting in our own way to do that thing.

For you, it may be a game of tennis. For someone else, it might be a promotion. For someone, it will be graduating with a particular degree. For me, it will be interviewing someone, whatever. Like, we all have that thing where we think, When I do this, then people will say I made it.Why is that?

Nick Kyrigos: I don’t know. I feel like if people really understood my journey, then they wouldn’t be so pushy, I think.

And like, if I just sat down with all my haters and we had like a nice meal together and I gave them my side of the story, I think they’d have a better understanding and they wouldn’t be so like, they wouldn’t criticize or be so like aggressive towards me on social media or just in general. So I feel like maybe if I do win Wimbledon and like it’s, I was so close and I don’t even really love the sport.

Like I’m only doing this because I love taking care of my family, my people, and I want to do this so I can prove that no matter how much more of an underdog you are, you can achieve something like winning Wimbledon. Like that’s, I never thought in my mind that I’d be capable of doing that. And look, maybe you are right.

I know that even if I did that, people are going to be like, all right, now do it again. And it’s just like, that’s, I guess that’s the rat race of, of life, you know, how much is enough. And I feel like I’m very content with my life now. I have more than enough to enjoy. And so if it was up to me, I probably wouldn’t, I don’t really want to play anymore to be honest, but I have to almost, I’ve got so much more to give. But for me, I don’t feel the pain anymore.

Jay Shetty: It’s really interesting to hear an athlete say, I’m tired. It’s a tough gig. It’s hard. Because I think we almost want to believe that The best athletes don’t feel that, but that’s not true.

Nick Kyrigos: No, it’s not true. And I guess that period in 2019 kind of accelerated my exhaust.

Like if I had a bit of a normal career and I flew under the radar, I don’t feel I’d feel this way, but those couple years really, I think, put a lot on my age, like I’m 28, but I feel like, you know, I’ve traveled to pretty much every country I’ve seen cultures, you know, I was traveling to. countries when I was 13 and I saw what, you know, poverty was like, it really opened my eyes and I guess those couple of years accelerated my, almost pushed me to the end of my career a bit earlier because I was just, I felt that way.

And I was so eternally hurting that I had to play for more than myself. And that’s why now I do, I’m exhausted when I train, I’m like, I just. And I don’t want people to watch this and say, okay, soft or whatever, but it’s just like, it’s just hard. Like I am tired. I’m, I’m tired of playing tennis. Like it’s, it’s more than going out last year, had the best year of my career and I’m playing in front of millions of people, stadiums packed out, everyone’s eyes on me.

I don’t know if I’m an athlete loves that, but I’m a bit to that, I feel like a circus animal a little bit. I walk out there and like, Oh, we just want to see Kiros do something crazy. Like I’m sick of kind of playing that role. I’m sick of playing, like I have to turn to completely different person and I don’t like that. It’s exhausting.

Jay Shetty: Do you think when you come back, how are you trying to figure out how you’ll approach it differently? Have you thought about?

Nick Kyrigos:Well, I think now I’m, I’ve kind of come to peace with, I only wanna play for about another one to two years and, and be at the top and, and go down my own terms.

Like I would hate to have another surgery or anything like that. So I think I’ve still got the ability to have a good one to two years and then that’s it. I think I’ll be at peace with everything I’ve achieved and, you’re right. I’m gonna have to just say, look to everyone out there who wants me to play more. You’re just gonna have to be okay with me not playing anymore.

Jay Shetty: Well, people are trying to figure out whether you’ll be playing in December. Yeah. You’re obviously, like you said, you’re in pain even when you stand up. [00:27:00]Like, how do you deal with that anxiety of like, people want me to play in December. I don’t even know if I’ll be better yet.How do you navigate that?

Nick Kyrigos: It’s hard. It’s hard. It’s hard because it. You know, I’m going to the gym, I’m doing my rehab, it’s a, it’s a, like these surgeries aren’t just like little surgeries, they’re like, you know, you might have something seriously wrong with your body and it takes time, like we’re, I’m only human, I’d love to be like a Novak or someone that just is always healthy almost, it seems that way, but it takes months and months of, you know, strength, consistency, diligency to get back to playing tennis at that high level again, like I don’t want to get back on tour and just play decent, I was competing for Grand Slam, so I want to get back to that level. So it might take, you know, a bit more time.

Jay Shetty: I want to go back a few things when you were saying, like, if you could take all your haters out for dinner and, and hang with them. So imagine we were at dinner and all the haters are here right now. What do you want them to know about you to understand you deeply?

If you could say three things to them to understand you more deeply and intently, what would you genuinely at the heart want them to know if, if we had the floor with them right now.

Nick Kyrigos: I guess I would, I would want to listen to them more. I’d be like, why do you dislike me so much? Cause I feel like when I’m reading all these comments, they really truly don’t like me.

And I feel like I don’t dislike anyone that I don’t know. Like, I just think it’s ridiculous to have an opinion or, or that person, this one, I have no idea who they are or how they are. So I would just ask him like, why do you dislike me so much? And then I would make them open up. And then I guess, cause I think for instance, I use my girlfriend as an example.

So my reputation in Australia is like arrogant, he’s crazy, he’s volatile. And having those three things, when you’re meeting a person for the first time, they are probably three pretty rough things to like already assume of someone. So I had to prove every time I meet someone new, I have to kind of prove to them. That’s not me. And so, and I asked her, what was the first three things you came to mind? And then she told me those three things. And so that’s how everyone in the world that hasn’t met before assumes I am. And that’s, that’s pretty brutal. Like how those three things are, they’re terrible. I don’t hang around with one person that is arrogant or volatile or crazy.

So I think. And she just spent time, like two times with me and then she’s like, you’re like completely different to how the media paints you out to be. So I guess every hater just thinks I’m like that. I’m assuming. So I would just try and prove that I’m not like that, but it’s so hard.

Jay Shetty: And do you think you just, you just started playing the character at one point?

Nick Kyrigos: Definitely. Yeah. Well, that’s. You know, at the end of the day, you know, money’s important. So I knew that that Nick could, that’s the one that everyone wanted.

They didn’t give, they didn’t care about how I actually was. They just wanted that one. Like brands just wanted to work with that one. And that was hard. Like I was like, every time I do something brand wise earlier in my career, I was exhausted. I got home. I was like, thank God that’s over. So I could just be myself again.

Jay Shetty: And how did you know that? Were there people in your, like, vicinity, like, telling you that? Or like, because that’s fascinating, right? Like the construction of talent is something that I think the average person is so separated from. Like when I moved to LA five years ago and I coach and work with so many different people in different parts of, whether it’s music, acting, athletes, and you start recognizing how their management and their teams want them to be a certain persona, whether it’s like you’ve got to show that you’re single because otherwise people, you know, people won’t be into you if you have a long term relationship or you’ve got to be this way so that this brand will want to work with you. How much of that was in your ear? Were you hearing things like that or was it more in your own mind.

Nick Kyrigos: It was more in my own mind. I think, you know, my team now, I’ve only ever wanted me to be happy and be myself. And I know that, and that’s why I keep them around. I have a really small circle, but I knew that brands just that I knew that they wanted that Nick. And it’s sad in a way because they don’t even want to get to know me like me as a person. Like we wouldn’t even sit down and have this conversation with, they just wanted me to be that, the one they see on the court, like be the entertaining one. And it’s like, I’m not like that. I’m very chilled out and yeah, I just, I feel like most people just want to meet that one.

35:29- Nice guy Nick

Jay Shetty: What would’ve changed if you were allowed to be nice guy, Nick, from the beginning, like, and, and people perceived you as you actually are. Like, how do you think that would have impacted your game, your career, the work?

Nick Kyrigos: Well, the first five years of my career, I was almost impossible to get any sort of deal with anyone because they just thought I was volatile, crazy. They didn’t want me representing their brand where I feel like if they knew how I was and actually like a nice guy that would have helped. I probably would have made a lot more money.

I probably would have been more at peace with people actually knowing that I was a good guy because for a minute there, I thought the whole world thought that I was just a terrible person. I feel like it would have helped me. I definitely don’t think I would have fell into that dark period of my life as well.

But conversely, I don’t want to, I don’t want to change that because that makes me who I am today. Obviously, I know everyone kind of says that, but when I opened up on social media about it, the amount of people that now open up to me daily, you know, I’ve got people around the world that, you know, I give them my number and I’ve had phone calls with people and tried to articulate in a way that it’s okay.

Like that’s completely normal what you’re going through, but like, please keep reaching out to me, stay in touch with me if you need any help. So that’s been the most powerful thing in my career at the end of days, helping others getting through rough patches of their life. All the accomplishments. I don’t actually care about them.

I would, I don’t, all my people know, I don’t ever sit there and talk about what I’ve achieved. Like I don’t really care about it. I think that’s all a bit superficial, but the platform that I have now is amazing what I can do with it.

Jay Shetty: Yeah. It’s interesting, isn’t it? As a professional, we [00:37:00] assume that complete control is a demonstration of brilliance.

When the reality is that when you’re playing something you love, it’s natural to be passionate. Yep. And like, I think, I mean, I’m not an athlete, but as in, even if I’m playing football with my mates, if I miss a shot or someone misses a penalty, I can take it very seriously. And I don’t see, that’s a sign of passion and care and enthusiasm and energy.

It’s not a sign of not caring or being angry at someone or being mad at my mate. It’s my mate, he’s always going to be my mate. But in that moment, it’s like, dude, you should have put that penalty away, right? But we’ve tried to make, especially in tennis, it’s almost like there’s no space for passion and personality, especially in tennis.

Nick Kyrigos: Yeah, its a very, look, it’s a, it’s a white privileged sport. So I was, again, I was behind the eight ball from the get go, you know, I was colored, had some. You know, big personality, wore the emotion on my sleeve. So I was always trying to play against so many more people than just so who was down beating the best players in the world is already hard enough.

You know, the training every day, the diet, the discipline that was already hard. But me, it was like I was playing against. Millions more people every time I went out on the court. And I think that’s why I’m a bit more exhausted than the average tennis player. Now, when someone goes out there, they’re not, they’re just playing against who’s down the other end, but I was playing against the media.

I was playing against, cause I knew that every little thing I did was under such a microscope. And even if I had a flawless match, I was like, Oh, that’s how it should be anyway. But then the minute I did something bad, it was like, Oh, here it is. See, that’s his true colors. I was like, I couldn’t win. I actually couldn’t win.

And then if I was well behaved and disciplined, it was like, Oh, no, it’s boring. So it’s like, okay, which one do you want? And that’s how I’ve always felt like on the tennis world that they haven’t embraced me. And that’s why I’ve got such a big chip on my shoulder. Now with the tennis world, it’s like, I don’t owe anyone anything anymore.

So, that’s been the biggest, it’s just been a whole, like a walking contradiction my entire, my entire career.

TC Staff

Bringing you daily updates from the world of tennis.

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