FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Men's Doubles Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 29, 2022 Australia's Nick Kyrgios during the final with Thanasi Kokkinakis against Australia's Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
March 27, 2022
(Reuters) – Nick Kyrgios on Sunday credited four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka for helping him to deal with his inner demons.
After the Australian produced a clinical display to dispatch Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the third round of the Masters 1000 tournament in Miami, he once again opened up about the mental struggles he had endured over the past few years.
Kyrgios said he had moved on from the “dark places” in his life and had found a kindred spirit in Osaka, who has blazed a trail on the topic of mental health in sport.
“Naomi kind of pulled the pin at that French Open (in 2021) when she (disclosed she) was dealing with all that negative kind of emotion, and when she just kind of pulled the pin, I related to that,” said Kyrgios.
“I felt like I constantly played so much under that mental stress and negativity that I genuinely just couldn’t function anymore with the pressures. I couldn’t function with the negativity.”
Osaka withdrew from last year’s French Open following a row with tournament organisers over media duties, explaining that she had been suffering from depression for almost three years.
Her disclosure inspired a number of top athletes to make public their own struggles.
“I felt like I constantly played so much under that mental stress and negativity that I genuinely just couldn’t function anymore with the pressures. I couldn’t function with the negativity,” Kyrgios told reporters in Miami.
“Every day was just constant negativity from you guys, from eventually my family, eventually from my friends, from everyone. There was no positivity, and it was just eating me up and I just genuinely hated my life.
“It’s taken a long time, and obviously I’m just towards a point where I’m just happy now… I had to fix it myself.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Pritha Sarkar)