Kyrgios looking to change the narrative

·3-min read

A determination to "change the narrative" is driving Nick Kyrgios's quest for long overdue grand slam glory in New York.

Turning 28 in November and without even a grand slam semi-final appearance to his credit until seven weeks ago, Kyrgios knew the clock was ticking.

As well as not fulfilling his rich potential, Kyrgios - who revealed mental health issues earlier this year - knew he was wasting other people's time too.

So tennis's most prodigious talent decided to go to work. Properly.

"I felt like when I was really struggling mentally, I was very selfish," Kyrgios said ahead of his maiden US Open quarter-final against Karen Khachanov on Tuesday (11am Wednesday AEST).

"I felt like, 'I feel bad, I don't want to play'.

"Then I looked at the people closest to me and how much I was letting them down, and I didn't want to do that any more.

"Then, I don't know, I just tried to just look at my career. I was like, 'I feel like I've got so much left to give to the sport.'

"That's it. I just trained hard. I just put my head down, 'Look, let's get in shape, better shape, first of all. Let's see, like, how it goes'.

The results have been stunning.

After slumping to 137th in the rankings in February, Kyrgios has soared back into the world's top 20 on the back of a career-best run highlighted by a Wimbledon finals appearance, a seventh ATP title and raft of other semi and quarter-finals.

"Obviously winning helps," he said.

"I've been winning a lot this year. The motivation has been there. It's easy to train. It's easier to wake up obviously when things are going great.

"I feel like I'm making people proud now. I feel like there's not as much negative things being said about me. I just wanted to turn the narrative around almost.

"That's basically it. I just was feeling so depressed all the time, so feeling sorry for myself. I just wanted to change that."

After bursting onto the international scene at Wimbledon in 2014, when the flashy Canberran upset Rafael Nadal to become the lowest-ranked player in more than 20 years to topple a world No.1 at a grand slam, Kyrgios found the pressures and expectation too much.

"I just mentally struggled so hard for like the first six, seven years of my career," he said after taking out world No.1 Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

"I had great results, shocking results, try really hard, then tanking. I just didn't know how to deal with it.

"I honestly didn't know how to deal with any of it. It was hard. I beat myself up way too hard. It was unhealthy.

"I look back, it was just all a learning process to now because I've matured so much. I feel like I kind of embrace it all.

"When I'm playing bad, I embrace it. When I'm playing good, I embrace it.

"But I stay the same, where before I used to just ride the highs and lows way too much and I was exhausted.

"Now I feel like I know the process now of what it takes to get to a final of a grand slam. Not to win it yet, but to get to the final.

"I know the process. You can't avoid it."

Kyrgios and Khachanov, who have a chequered history and once clashed in a bitter social media feud, have split their two previous career meetings.

But Khachanov knows he will face a different beast in New York.

"Nick said by himself that he doesn't recognise himself in a way how professional he is right now," the Russian said.

"I think Wimbledon showed him if he does the things like he does now, the kind of level he has, what he's capable of."

Another win for Kyrgios would vault him into a semi-final against either Norwegian fifth seed Casper Ruud or Italian Matteo Berrettini.