Kyrgios’ sad admission after brutal loss
Nick Kyrgios expanded once more on just what makes him play his best tennis - but at the same time made a sad admission about why his career hasn't hit the heights many believe he should have reached.
The tennis star was comprehensively outplayed by Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets as Spain defeated Australia on Saturday night to book its place in the ATP Cup final against Serbia.
After a run of three seriously impressive singles wins at the tournament - to go with an epic doubles victory over Great Britain - Kyrgios's hot streak came to an end at the hands of the world No. 10, who played out of his skin to ensure his rival never stood a chance.
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Both before and during the ATP Cup - a team event that pits countries against each other - Kyrgios has spoken at length about his love of being around his Aussie teammates and how he plays better when he knows his mates are counting on him.
After Australia lost its semi-final, the 24-year-old spoke once again about the impact of entering a team environment, revealing his pro career would look a lot different if he was able to bottle the motivation he feels when representing his country, when he steps out onto the court at grand slams.
"Well no, because these boys aren't with me on the bench when I'm playing individually," Kyrgios said when asked if there was a way to harness that feeling of playing ATP Cup or Davis Cup at non-team tournaments.
"I don't know what it is. When I'm playing for myself, I find it hard to get up. My motivation levels are pretty low most of the time but something about these guys and playing for them brings it out of me and I just love it.
"I'm a team player.
"If I would have I probably would have had a very different six years of my career."
It's sad because clearly the deeply individual sport that tennis is - with its constant travel and time away from loved ones - does not suit Kyrgios.
He's out of place in a sport that requires the individual to be hellbent on self-improvement and motivated enough to strive for every extra ounce that will give him or her an edge over the person on the other side of the net.
That sort of drive is easily found in players like Rafael Nadal or Maria Sharapova, for example, but not Kyrgios.
It's why his attitude and commitment are routinely questioned. Everyone has been searching for the answer to what makes Kyrgios tick and how to get him locked in for matches more consistently - but to no avail.
A man touted with the talent to win grand slams just doesn't have the inner desire when he's left to his own devices. At least not yet.
And if he feels the way he does about being on his own, then he may never find it.
It's probably why the pain of losing to Bautista Agut in Sydney hurts more than any loss he'll suffer on the regular tour this year.
"Ultimately I don't really care how I play, I just want to win for the team," Kyrgios said. "I was pretty disappointed when I came off.
"As Alex (de Minaur) said, it's been unbelievable - eight or nine days with the boys. We've all won matches, great matches.
"It's been a lot of fun to have the opportunity to play for Australia and hang out with these boys again was pretty cool."
If Kyrgios never finds the magic potion that will help him go deep at majors, then that gives us all the more reason to lap up every ounce of enjoyment he provides wearing the green and gold.