There’s no one quite like Nick Kyrgios in the world of tennis right now, or perhaps ever in the sport.
The Australian is a polarizing figure due to his antics both on and off the court that ranges from the brilliant to the downright bizarre.
There have been plenty of smashed rackets over the years, on court arguments and trick shots that have entertained crowds all over the world.
But alongside that, he has been open and honest about the problems the sport has and also his own struggles with his mental health.
Kyrgios was a junior Grand Slam champion, winning the Australian Open juniors against his good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The natural talent was there to see and he turned pro in 2012 and it was not long before he was announcing himself onto the world stage.
By 2014, he was beating then world number one Rafael Nadal in the third round at Wimbledon on his way to the quarter-finals.
There was no telling what trajectory his career would take and there was plenty of talk about him being a future Slam winner.
The exciting brand of tennis he played made him popular with fans and he is probably one of the most naturally gifted people to pick up a racket.
“He’s got as much talent if not more talent than [Roger] Federer or John McEnroe,” Greg Rusedski told talkSPORT.com in 2021. “But it doesn’t matter how ridiculously talented you are, it doesn’t beat hard work, the day-to-day grind and commitment.”
It is that question over his commitment that has got him into trouble on countless occasions over the years, even admitting in 2015 that he ‘doesn’t love the sport’ and would rather be playing basketball.
At Wimbeldon in 2015, he was accused of tanking in a third round loss to Richard Gasquet when he appeared to not return some serves. It would not be the first time in his career when that has been levied against him.
He caused further controversy in the same year when he told Stan Wawrinka during a match that ‘Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend’. An incident he was later fined for.
There is a fine line that Kyrgios treads when it comes to these incidents and more often than not lands him in trouble.
He was banned for 16-weeks in 2019 when he got into a heated row with an umpire at the Cincinnati Open where he called him a ‘f****** tool’. It also left him $167,000 lighter in the pocket after that incident.
It was behavior like that, and smashing dozens of rackets seemingly at every tournament, that divides opinion, especially among the tennis traditionalists.
Kyrgios has absolutely no filter and sometimes that has been needed, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
He rightly called out Novak Djokovic for his controversial Adria Tour at the height of the pandemic, which featured no masks and no social distancing.
He labeled it a ‘bonehead decision’ and later called the 20-time Grand Slam winner a ‘tool’.
Those comments got him into trouble with former British number one Annabel Croft who said ‘I don’t really respect him as a human being’.
Like him or loathe him, he’s become an essential part of the ATP tour and has gone on to win his Grand Slam title, picking up the Australian Open doubles crown with his great mate Kokkinakis.
He reached a career high of 13 in the rankings in 2016 and has so far won six career titles, with the last of those coming in August 2019.
Behind the jokes, the underarm serves, racket smashes and combustible behavior, there is someone who has struggled with their mental health.
Kyrgios recently opened up about his struggles and suicidal thoughts.
“Most would assume I was doing OK mentally or enjoying my life … it was one of my darkest periods,” Kyrgios wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a picture of him at training.
“If you look closely, on my right arm you can see my self harm. I was having suicidal thoughts and was literally struggling to get out of bed, let alone play in front of millions.
“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends. I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.
“I know that day to day life can seem extremely exhausting, impossible at times. I understand that you feel if you open up it may make you feel weak, or scared. I’m telling you right now, it’s OK, you are not alone.
“I’ve been through those times when it seemed as if those positive energetic vibes were never ever going to be reality.”
He also recently praised and empathized with Naomi Osaka for opening up on her own mental health experiences and struggles with the media.
“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,” the 26-year-old told reporters at the 2022 Miami Open.
Kyrgios added: “Every day was just constant negativity from you guys [the media], 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.”
Whatever your views are on Nick Kyrgios, he’s made a deep impact on the sport. Maybe he will be remembered as someone who will never fulfill his potential, but he will be an entertaining ride.