Nick Kyrgios copped a fresh barrage of criticism over his conduct but the divisive Australian was all smiles on Saturday, noting he had rediscovered his love of tennis.
A day after losing his cool in a four-set third-round defeat to Tomas Berdych, Kyrgios’ Australian Open campaign ended with a mixed doubles loss alongside love interest Ajla Tomljanovic.
Kyrgios caused a stir last year when he declared he’d rather watch NBA than tennis.
The 20-year-old went a step further on Saturday, opening up about how little he enjoyed the ATP circuit in 2015.
“I didn’t enjoy my tennis at all last year,” Kyrgios said.
“I was really struggling a lot of the time – (struggling) mentally. I was wondering if I really liked the sport or wanted to play at times.
“But the last couple of months, it’s turned around … I’ve started to enjoy tennis a lot more.”
The timeline matches up alongside a new relationship with Tomljanovic.
“Hard to say – I don’t know,” Kyrgios said with a smile alongside Tomljanovic, when asked about what changed his attitude.
Australians Kyrgios and Tomljanovic were beaten 7-5 6-1 on Saturday by top seeds Ivan Dodig and Sania Mirza.
As ever with Kyrgios, it was eventful.
Most notably, the controversial young gun took a phone call on court.
“One of my friends called me,” he explained.
“Kind of – not really,” he added, when asked if it was an important matter.
The highlight of the match came when Dodig crashed into advertising boards while striking an astonishing winner.
Kyrgios and Tomljanovic missed the ball, both having rushed to one side of the court.
“A little bit of miscommunication between us,” Kyrgios said.
It wasn’t the only case of it in the match, a bold choice for a date if ever there was one.
“It was a little bit tougher, at times. It was good though,” Kyrgios laughed, when asked about partnering up with his partner.
Tomljanovic’s take was somewhat different.
“You don’t really hold back much … it was fun but I don’t like losing,” she said.
“She was certainly a bit too hard on myself out there but just being on the court with her, I was in a happy place,” he said.
Kyrgios added he was not worried about those bemoaning his heated spat with the chair umpire during the loss to Berdych.
“It doesn’t really matter to me. Whether I win or lose – if I behave like that or I don’t – people are going to watch,” he said.
“Roger (Federer) and guys like that … maybe they don’t have the same blow-ups.
“But I never see them playing when there’s music playing .. or a ball gets thrown back into the court.
“I feel as if the crowd gets a little bit more rowdy when I’m playing. They feel as if it’s a bit more free spirited and they can do what they want.”