The opening scenes of the Netflix series 'Break Point' shows a nine-year-old Nick Kyrgios in a home video, clowning around at a pool table while dressed in a cape and helmet. It closes with Kyrgios giving the camera the middle finger.
The Australian has been offering the same digit to the tennis world for the past decade, infuriating many while at the same time attracting the sort of fanatical support afforded rock gods or those NBA stars Kyrgios idolises. The 10-part 'Break Point' series is from the same team which gave us the highly popular 'F1: Drive to Survive', with tennis authorities hoping the exposure gives their sport a similar lift in profile.
It follows select players around the tour for a year, devoting much of its first episode to Kyrgios and attempting to explore why the 27-year-old has such a love-hate relationship with the game that has made him a superstar. Viewers are given access to Kyrgios' inner sanctum during last year's Australian Open, a tournament which saw him claim a grand slam doubles title with good mate Thanasi Kokkinakis.
"He's not as crazy as everyone thinks," Kyrgios' girlfriend Costeen Hatzi assures us early on. But it’s the person who's known him the longest – mother Norlaila – who gives us the greatest insight into what makes her son tick.
"I worry about him every day because he's gone through some really, really unhappy times," she says. "I just want him to be happy."
His on-court mood swings are something Kyrgios is aware of even if he can’t control them. One commentator likens it to a werewolf coming out at the sight of a full moon.
Kyrgios counters: "Millions of people are watching you and you're not playing your best, would you not be frustrated (and) angry? I've got such a short fuse. Sometimes I do cross the line."
Manager's sad revelation about Nick Kyrgios
The episode rewinds to Kyrgios' famous fourth round win over World No.1 Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014. It was, at the same time, the best and worst thing to happen to a young, immature player with a volatile nature.
"He just became so aggressive…so angry, always angry at something," Norlaila reveals. Kyrgios says: "That match changed everything. I went from a no-one to having people camping outside my house.
"My life was spiralling out of control. I was drinking every single night."
His manager, Daniel Horsfall, would often use iphone location tracking to fish Kyrgios out from where he'd ended up the previous night, rushing him to court for his next match.
"Everyone wanted to tell him what a shit bloke he was," Horsfall says of that period. Something had to give.
"I had to be kinder to myself. I couldn't put tennis in front of that," Kyrgios declares. "I can beat anyone but I have to do it my way."
The first five episodes of 'Break Point' will be screened from January 13. Episodes 6-10 will follow in June. Further information available at www.netflix.com/breakpoint.
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