Three weeks ago, Nick Kyrgios’ Australian summer came to an end after he lost to Tomas Berdych in the third round. Alongside Daria Gavrilova, the 20-year-old won the 2016 Hopman Cup much to the delight of the home nation but his erratic performance when he fell at the hands of the World No. 6 raised some question marks. René Denfeld caught up with the World No. 41 in Marseille in his first tournament back after the swing Down Under.
A week after dropping out of Rotterdam, Nick Kyrgios returned to competition at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille this week for the first time in nearly a month. In his first round match, the Australian faced the tricky task playing big-serving Canadian Vasek Pospisil. While Kyrgios won the match in two sets with the ostensibly straightforward scoreline of 6-4, 6-4, it was an encounter of tight margins — as a match of the No. 41 against the No. 42 would suggest.
While the Canadian fired 12 aces, Kyrgios applied pressure on the second of serve of his opponent, winning 68 percent of return points. Both players had chances to break but at the end it was Kyrgios who seized two of his four opportunities while saving both of the break chances that Pospisil created.
After the match, TTI caught up with the Australian for a quick chat.
TTI: First and foremost – how are you feeling physically and how is elbow that forced you to withdraw from Rotterdam?
Kyrgios: Yeah, I’m feeling good. The last couple of days haven’t been too heavy for me — I controlled my workload and just made sure that I was playable for today’s match.
TTI: It was your first match back after a few weeks away from the competition — not an easy opponent to start against but solid match from you.
Kyrgios: Yeah, it’s good to get my first match after the AusOpen [sic]. Obviously, there were some butterflies going out there again for my first match but I knew it was going to be a tough match. He’s a great competitor with a great serve, so I knew it was gonna be tough — I got a couple of lucky chances out there and took them.
TTI: Looking back a little towards the last month — how was Australia for you in hindsight, having a lot of attention on you at Hopman Cup and then subsequently the Australian Open?
Kyrgios: It’s always tough playing in Australia, but at the same time I always love playing there. The crowd’s great, you know, I had a great experience playing there again. Obviously, I didn’t go as far as I would’ve liked to like in the previous year but that’s how it goes. I thought I gave everything I had and obviously Berdych was too good — but looking back at it, it was obviously one of my funnest [sic] experiences so far at a Grand Slam.
TTI: Do you feel like you’re under an extra microscope in Australia and maybe even elsewhere — or do you try to not let it bother you?
Kyrgios: Yeah, I don’t really care too much but obviously I’m under the microscope a lot because, you know, I just say what I think and, yeah, I’m definitely different compared to the normal tennis player. So that’s just the way it is.
TTI: Tomorrow you’re playing doubles with Gabashvili, the day after you’ll face him in singles, which is always a little odd – how do you feel about that?
Kyrgios: That’s how it goes sometimes. Obviously, he’s a great guy; we actually get along pretty well which is strange because he’s a pretty old sorta dude and I’m a sorta young guy [sic], but every time we’ve had a chat he’s been incredibly nice to me — obviously, we practiced together the other day. Yeah, I mean, I’m looking forward to actually getting on the court. He’s obviously a new friend and I don’t have too many friends on tour. So yeah, I’m looking forward to it.
TTI: What’s your general goal for this year? Probably staying healthy first and foremost because you often seemed to struggle with little injuries here and there throughout the past 12 months — starting with your ankle twist in Indian Wells?
Kyrgios: That’s for sure the goal — I don’t wanna play too many events this year. My goal’s probably trying to stay home and obviously enjoy time with my family…stay home as much as possible and trying to stay healthy. When I’m playing the events, [to] give it all I’ve got.
Kyrgios and Gabashvili will face the No. 3 seeds Nicolas Mahut and Lucas Pouille in doubles on Wednesday, before taking the court for their singles meeting on Thursday.