Nick Kyrgios is enjoying tennis more—and Australian fans are enjoying his tennis more, too.
The 21-year-old was backed by a cheering crowd as he won two singles matches for the Australian Davis Cup team in Brisbane this past weekend, a stark contrast to the disapproval he received during a five-set defeat to Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open.
Kyrgios had a two-set lead in the third-round encounter in Melbourne, and drew criticism for the way he competed towards the end of the match.
“I got booed off the court at the Australian Open, and I honestly don’t know why,” said Kyrgios, insisting he had given his “best efforts.”
But there was no questioning the crowd’s enthusiasm during the Davis Cup tie in Brisbane.
“They really embraced me this time,” he said. “I got two big wins, and everyone likes to win.”
The Australian says he is concentrating on competing more consistently during matches. Now ranked No. 16, he has produced consistently good showings in recent weeks. He reached the semifinals in Marseille, Acapulco and Miami; picked up a second consecutive win against Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells; and took Roger Federer to a third-set tiebreaker in the semifinals in Miami.
“I’ve become a bit more of a professional, and it’s showing,” Kyrgios said.
He recently described being in a “dark place” at the end of 2016, and was unhappy with his reception at the Australian Open. He attributes his recent improvement to being with the team at Davis Cup, and his girlfriend, Ajla Tomljanovic, returning to the tour following injury.
“I’m in a happier place … playing the game as it’s meant to be played,” he said. “I’m not going back to the hotel hating the game.”
Kyrgios, who said he was “hurting physically” following the Davis Cup tie, plans to take a few days off before returning to play next week in Monte Carlo.