Long talented but short on desire, Nick Kyrgios has been seen as an otherworldly gift-waster by more than a few tennis enthusiasts in the past.

Perhaps not so much after his run to the Wimbledon semi-finals, however, a moment he savored, thinking of how far he had come, from the depths of despair to the brink of the Wimbledon final.

“There was a time when I was almost done with the sport,” he said. “Obviously I posted this year about the kind of mental state I was in in 2019 when I was at the Australian Open with self-destructive and suicidal thoughts and stuff.

“I’m sitting here today after the match… To be a semi-finalist at Wimbledon is a special achievement for everyone, but I think especially for me.”

Boasting enormous talent but little sense of direction when it comes to his career path, Kyrgios has long floundered as a controversy magnet who could trade blows with the game’s top talent – ​​he boasts impressive wins over each of the Big Three – but who didn’t really care about their place in the tennis pantheon.

And he didn’t hide it.

“I know who I am,” Kyrgios said last year. “I don’t put so much pressure on myself. I agree with that. I’m okay with not winning Grand Slams.

“I know this is going to make a lot of people angry. “He should do this.” But I shouldn’t, though. It’s not your life, it’s mine. I’m okay with just having fun, putting on a show.

Fast forward a year and Kyrgios isn’t hiding the fact that he’s delighted to have reached his first semi-final this week at Wimbledon – he’d be even happier if he could win the Wimbledon title on Sunday.

“I just sat there today and took it all in. There are so many people I want to thank. At the same time, I feel like I don’t want to stop there either.

Nick Kyrgios

Kyrgios – I don’t want to stop there

“If you asked someone if I was capable of [reach a Grand Slam semi-final] over the last two years, I think everyone would probably have said, “No, he doesn’t have the mental ability, he doesn’t have the fitness ability, he doesn’t have the discipline”, all that.

“I almost started to doubt myself with all this traffic going in and out of my mind.

“I just sat there today and took it all in. There are so many people I want to thank. At the same time, I feel like I don’t want to stop there either.

A “stony road”

Asked to describe his tennis journey on Wednesday, Kyrgios quickly came up with a one-word answer.

“Rocky.”

Until today’s three-set triumph over Cristian Garin (6-4, 6-3, 7-6), Kyrgios hadn’t reached a major quarter-final since 2015, and many thought he wouldn’t. probably never would. But something clicked this season for the 27-year-old Canberra native. He seemed to understand how to play on the ATP Tour on his own terms.

“I obviously thought last year, a year and a half, about whether I wanted to keep playing,” Kyrgios said. “Lost the love, lost the fire, lost the spark. Then some things changed in my life. I don’t know. I just rediscovered that I have a lot of people who want me to play, for whom I I have a lot left in the tank. I feel like I’m probably playing some of my best tennis, I feel good mentally.

“The road has been long. I think it was a gap of seven, eight years to make a quarter-final here since my first. It was a hell of a ride.

A more mature Kyrgios?

Kyrgios points out the difference between his 27-year-old self and the younger version, hinting that he takes a bit of inspiration from his peers and takes a more professional and holistic approach to playing a Grand Slam.

“I just feel like I’m more mature,” Kyrgios said. “I think at the beginning of my career, if I made a third, a fourth or a quarter-final, I would be on my phone a lot, I would engage a lot online, I would like to go out to dinner and explore or just do sort of things, not necessarily soaking up the success, but not in a conservative way, just going home to Wimbledon with my team, putting my feet up, getting treatment and eating, resting well.

And now we come to the moment of the full circle. The one where Kyrgios talks about winning a Grand Slam and admits it’s a possibility – and something he’d love to do.

“I think everyone has the same goal in my team,” he said. “That’s why it works. We all know what we came here to do. I let them know that I wanted to go far enough here and maybe even lift the trophy. I have made it known enough.

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