Kyrgios now a rebel with a cause
THE plight of underprivileged youth will be at the heart of Nick Kyrgios' Australian Open crusade when the Canberran launches into his Melbourne Park crusade.
Regularly lashed for on-court misdemeanours, Kyrgios is now consumed by the welfare of disadvantaged youngsters, creating the NK Foundation.
The 17th seed revealed the desire to provide facilities for struggling children has become a key motivator in his career.
"It's massive for me to have a foundation like that," Kyrgios said ahead of his clash with Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva.
"I've been wanting to do something like this since I was about 19.
"To have my own place where kids or people could just come or sort of live or pick a sport they wanted to play.
"Doing well at tournaments obviously is massive. The cash is a big thing to go into the foundation.
"Obviously they're (kids) going to be watching and watching me play and that's going to be motivation for them, I think, whichever sport they chose.
"To see the person whose foundation is doing well, the culture would be awesome."
Kyrgios, with his brother Christos, is developing a facility in Melbourne where youth can play tennis, basketball, swim and take shelter.
Outwardly more at peace with himself than ever before, the 22-year-old believes the foundation has given him legitimate purpose - and a foil to smother competitive pressures.
"Basing off one event, I would definitely say it's helped me," he said, referring to his spectacular title surge in Brisbane this month.
"But it's going to be a long year. Definitely in the long run it's (the foundation) going to help me.
"I'm not just playing for myself. I'm playing for the whole foundation and everyone who's kinda helped me that and who's supported me.
"I'm playing for all of them and I'm sure that's going to help me on court.
"My brother is the CEO. He's doing all the stuff with it.
"I've definitely partnered with a lot of people to help me with it.
"And they've been so many players and past players that have been supportive.
"Tennis Australia, the ATP have helped. It's awesome.
"A lot of people have reached out and said what a good initiative it is.
"To have the support of players is like a pat on the back for me. At the end of the day, I just want to help people."
Nominated as an Open title contender by US coach Brad Gilbert, Kyrgios said early-career success was a double-edged sword.
A Wimbledon and Australian Open quarter-finalist as a teenager, Kyrgios said a crushing loss to friend Andy Murray was sobering blow.
"It happened for me pretty quickly," he said.
"I felt a lot of pressure every time after that. I felt a lot of pressure every time I went out on the court.
"Then Murray just destroyed me in Toronto, that kind of brought me back down to life.
"I think last year there were periods where I was really good and really bad.
"But at the end of the day I just need to know it's a long year. I can't expend too much energy on other things.
"I want to kind of ride the highs, not as high as I usually do.
"If I lose a match, at the end of the day it's a tennis match. I kind of want to keep it even-keeled throughout the whole year rather than being such a rollercoaster ride.
"I guess right now that's what I'm doing. Brisbane was a great week, but I had to prepare for the Australian Open, and (I) prepared."