Temperamental Australian Nick Kyrgios says he will cut back on his schedule in 2019, blaming long stints away from home for mental health issues that led him to see psychologists.
The fiery 23-year-old had another roller-coaster tennis season this year where he was criticised for his on-court antics, before an elbow injury forced him to call an early halt to the year in October.
On returning home he told his local Canberra Times newspaper he was “starting to see some psychologists and trying to get on top of my mental health”, admitting he had “probably left it a little too long”.
He makes his tennis comeback at the Brisbane International this week as defending champion and said he was feeling much better but would tighten-up his schedule after a gruelling 2018.
“Being home solved a lot of my problems. It was more mental than anything,” he said.
“I was away from home for five-and-a-half months. I don’t ever want to do that again.
“If I was to win the US Open or something, I won’t play again for the rest of the year,” he added.
The supremely talented but combustible Kyrgios has become infamous for petulant behaviour, outbursts and meltdowns on court.
At the US Open in August an umpire gave him a controversial pep talk during his second-round game for his perceived lack of effort.
And he was criticised for his lacklustre performance in exiting the Shanghai Masters in the first round in October.
Kyrgios said that “being away from home was the toughest bit”.
“Battling injuries, going to tournaments and not even playing was tough, but again, they’re not really big problems,” he added.
“I’ll have a lighter schedule and when I play, enjoy playing and just compete.”
His start to the new season hasn’t gone entirely to plan after he was bitten by a spider and admitted to hospital on Christmas Day.
But after antibiotics and rest he said he was ready to go again.
“I didn’t take it (bite) seriously. I just felt an irritation on my foot the day before Christmas,” he said. “There’s worse things in the world but I think I’ll be okay.”
Kyrgios has been dealt a tough start to his Brisbane defence after being drawn to face American Ryan Harrison in the first round in a rematch of the 2018 final.