Tennis’s bad boy Nick Kyrgios said yesterday he would pursue his first Grand Slam final next year while maintaining the intensity that has led to frequent brushes with officialdom.
The 20-year-old Australian, ranked 30th in the world, said he had “matured a lot” after a turbulent year in which he earned a suspended ban for making a sexual comment about the girlfriend of world number four Stan Wawrinka.
“I’m looking to, you know, go really far in a Grand Slam and then almost win one in the next year or two,” the right-hander told reporters during the start of the Philippine leg of the International Premier Tennis League tournament.
Kyrgios reached the fourth round in Wimbledon this year, his best Grand Slam result, before losing to Richard Gasquet. He also lost to Andy Murray, the world number two, in the third round of the French Open.
Tipped by many experts as a future world number one, Kyrgios picked up his second code violation in two matches in October, earning an $1,500 fine as he lost to Kei Nishikori at the Shanghai Masters tournament.
The volatile Australian had angrily reacted with vulgar language after being warned for smashing away a loose ball which nearly hit a line judge.
If he totals more than $5,000 in fines before February 24 next year, Kyrgios will have to serve the suspended ban imposed in August for his comments about Wawrinka’s girlfriend.
Kyrgios, Australia’s number two men’s tennis player, was last month ignored along with fellow controversial star Bernard Tomic, the Australian number one, as nominees for the Newcombe Medal.
It honours Australia’s “most outstanding elite tennis player and ambassador”.
“I had a pretty up and down year, results-wise and then obviously on the court there was some stuff,” Kyrgios said Sunday.
“But you know, overall I think it was pretty successful.”
“I think I’ve matured a lot this year and I’ve learned a lot and I definitely feel that I’ve grown as a person and as a tennis player,” he added.
Asked if this meant he would be less of an angry young man next year, he said:
“You know, I don’t think I’m actually very angry at all. I’m actually a calm sort of guy off the court.”
“But on the court I’m a competitor, you know. I want to win. At the end of the day that’s all I want to do.”
Kyrgios said the edginess was a positive element of his game.
“I’ll do everything I can, so I think for my game it’s good. It brings energy and excitement, and I think that’s very important.”
He said he was now leaner and stronger than previously as he hit the gym more and altered his diet.
To get further in the major tournaments he said he had to “put in that body work”.
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