Nick Kyrgios says he is “OK with not winning Grand Slams” and is happy to be back “putting on a show” on his impressive return to action at Wimbledon.
Kyrgios has hardly played since the Covid-19 pandemic started but has looked far from rusty this week in his first tournament since February.
He beat 21st seed Ugo Humbert in five sets in the first round and then swept past Gianluca Mager in straight sets.
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While Kyrgios has sometimes been seen as an under-achiever given his talents, he has been a huge hit with the crowds at the All England Club and seems content with his current place in the sport.
“You have to have some people, I believe, that are relatable, that people can bring other fans to watch… I feel like I'm one of those people," he said.
“Not everyone can be a [Roger] Federer or [Novak] Djokovic or [Rafael] Nadal. These are, like, once-in-a-decade athletes that inspire millions of people. Like, they're just gods. I see them as that, too.
“But you have to have some people, I believe, that are relatable, that people can bring other fans to watch, like people that are just normal. I feel like I'm one of those people. I'm Nick Kyrgios. I know who I am.
I just don't put that much pressure on myself any more. I'm okay with that. I'm okay with not winning Grand Slams.
“I know that's going to make a lot of people angry. He should be doing this. But I shouldn't, though. It's not your life, it's mine. I'm okay with just enjoying myself, putting on a show."
One of Kyrgios’ best runs at a Grand Slam came in 2014 when he reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
He has only reached the fourth round of a Slam on five occasions since, but will be looking to do so again on Saturday when he faces 16th seed Felix Auger Aliassime.
“It's just been awesome,” he said. “I feel like the public and the crowds have really embraced me and really enjoyed me being back. I feel like I've got a lot to offer for this tournament.
“I don't put as much pressure on myself any more. When I was younger, it was hard to deal with all the criticism that the media gave me, that everyone gave me. ‘He should be doing this’ [and] ‘He should be achieving this’ [and] ‘He's not doing this enough.’
“Now I just enjoy it when I'm out there. I breathe in the fresh air. I don't take anything for granted. I just feel like I'm comfortable… People love Wimbledon. I love Wimbledon. I love seeing the crowds.
"They know it's a bit of a show. They just want entertainment at the end of the day. Like a couple screaming out asking normal questions about Tottenham Hotspur. It's a bit odd.
"It's crazy out there. I have people in the front row literally coaching me, like literally telling me, ‘that's all right, good ball, great return, it will work next time, good depth’. I'm like, ‘dude, what is going on out here?’”
Kyrgios, who is also playing mixed doubles with Venus Williams, looked as though he was set to play at the Tokyo Olympics after being named in the Australia squad.
However, he has also entered a tournament in Atlanta which starts one day after the Olympic tennis event on July 24.
"I'm tossing up my options at the same time,” he said. “I've heard some things about the Olympics, that are very tough, restrictions wise. No guests, none of that stuff."
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