Nick Kyrgios has made the crushing admission that he's never truly felt good about his tennis career until making the final at Wimbledon.
The Aussie star threatened to shock Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final, taking the first set before eventually succumbing 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3).
'GOT HIM BACK': Nick Kyrgios' brother lifts the lid on family split
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Kyrgios said he finally feels like he belongs on the big stages of tennis despite falling painfully short of his maiden grand slam title.
"It's taken me 10 years, almost 10 years in my career to finally get to the point of playing for a grand slam and coming up short, but my level is right there," he said.
"You look at what Novak has done to some other opponents, and it's not a good feeling. But I'm right there. I'm not behind the eight ball at all.
"I played a slam final against one of the greatest of all time, and I was right there.
"I came out in the first set and I looked like I was the one who had played in a lot of finals. I thought I dealt with the pressure pretty well."
The 27-year-old admitted he’s “never felt good” about his tennis career, but felt a weight of expectation lift off his shoulders when he made the final.
“It’s just a lot mentally. Everyone supporting you, there are negative comments. There’s the pressure of playing finals at Wimbledon - am I going to do good, am I going to behave well for me? There’s so many things,” he said.
“Playing Djokovic is a hard enough task as it is and to go out there, I lost this match but I feel like there’s this weight off my shoulders.
“I feel like there’s so much weight on my shoulders all the time when I step out on the tennis court. Now it’s just released and I feel amazing.
“This is the best I’ve felt in two weeks. I was obviously super-excited to be here and I had some high hopes, but I’ve never felt, to be honest, good.
“I just felt so much pressure. There’s so much anxiety and pressure to do things or achieve things and if I don’t do well, it’s just so much. So I feel unbelievable. Like I’m two beers deep.”
Nick Kyrgios might have retired if he won Wimbledon
Surprisingly, Kyrgios admitted that he may have actually lost the desire to play on if he'd won the Wimbledon final.
"I feel like if I had won today, I would have struggled with motivation," he added.
"I've been told my entire life winning Wimbledon is the ultimate achievement.
"For someone like me - I'm not like a young guy like (Jannik) Sinner or someone or Carlos Alcaraz, who have come on tour recently and gone deep in slams - I feel like if I had won that grand slam, I would have lacked a bit of motivation, to be honest.
"Coming back for other tournaments, like 250s and stuff, I would have really struggled (if) I kind of achieved the greatest pinnacle of what you can achieve in tennis."
After revealing in February that he'd self-harmed in 2019 and harboured suicidal thoughts, Kyrgios believes he's on the right path after turning a corner this year.
"The confidence and the belief in yourself, that only comes with achievement or something that (Djokovic has) achieved like that many times," he said.
"I can only imagine how confident he feels every day, especially at Wimbledon, walking around.
"So I've got that under my belt now, a Wimbledon finalist. I can kind of draw from experience.
"My level has always been there but I feel like I've kind of put it together a little bit this week, these couple weeks.
"My fire's been lit this whole year. I've obviously met a lot of amazing people this year who have just given me extra motivation.
"To find people that finally have my back, that I just love being around, and they just want to push me to be a better person and to be a better tennis player, they realise that I'm immensely talented and I have a lot of, I feel like, a lot more to do in this sport."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.