In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty welcomes his guest, Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios is a professional tennis player who has won numerous singles and doubles titles, reaching his first Grand Slam final in 2020. In this conversation, he opens up to Jay Shetty about his tumultuous relationship with tennis and how success is not always what it appears to be.

The Unsporty Kid Turned Tennis Legend

Nick Kyrgios has revealed to Jay Shetty that his mother encouraged him to play tennis as an overweight child. A coach soon recognized his talent, which led his parents to invest heavily in his tennis career, hoping he would succeed and support the family in return. 

However, despite achieving success, Kyrgios has been portrayed by the media as the "bad boy of tennis," which he insists is not an accurate reflection of his true nature. He describes himself as generous, caring, and thoughtful. Kyrgios shares with Jay Shetty that he struggles to overcome this image, significantly impacting his personal life and those close to him. 

Moreover, Kyrgios explains that his emotional outbursts on the court result from his competitive nature and the game pressures, not how he behaves daily. He believes the media often highlights his negative moments, overshadowing his general conduct and respect for the sport and his opponents.

The Reverse of the Medal

In 2019, Nick Kyrgios faced one of the darkest periods of his life, feeling profoundly impacted by the constant negative comments on social media about himself and his family. This negativity made him doubt himself, fostering negative self-perceptions and unhealthy habits. At 19, Kyrgios resorted to alcohol and isolated himself, even contemplating ending his life. 

Kyrgios recalls the time when he checked into a psychiatric ward in London, only to play against Nadal the next day. Despite his mental health struggles, he performed well in tournaments, which led the media to misinterpret his success as a positive turnaround. He describes to Jay Shetty an instance in Mexico where he had suicidal thoughts right before winning a tournament.

Inspiring Others

Despite passing through a challenging time in 2019, Kyrgios continued to achieve professional success in tennis. The seemingly positive evolution, coupled with his inner struggles, took a toll on the tennis player's health. He was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward, yet he felt pressured to continue playing, even under severe mental distress. 

Kyrgios' life took a turn for the better when he realized he had a responsibility towards his fans, especially young people and those facing severe challenges. It gave him a purpose beyond his feelings. Moreover, his family and friends' ongoing support was crucial. Now, Kyrgios views every new experience as a bonus and strives to live in the present, valuing each moment. 

The Game

Nick Kyrgios opened up to Jay Shetty about reaching the Wimbledon final. It was a surreal experience for him to have the opportunity to play with tennis legends. In his view, every aspect of his journey, including training and sacrifices, culminated in that moment, making everything worthwhile. Despite not sleeping the night before, he felt at home on the court. The experience was so valuable that his losing the game didn't sadden him.

Kyrgios told Jay Shetty that his visible anger on the court reflects his deep investment in the game and the immense effort he and his team have put in. He acknowledges the importance of winning, not just for himself but for his entire support team. Kyrgios' drive to win is partially to prove critics wrong and achieve peace in his personal life so he can be left alone without judgment, as he believes winning is the only way to silence his haters.

Exhaustion from Mental Pressure

Nick Kyrgios acknowledges to Jay Shetty that even substantial achievements, like potentially winning Wimbledon, won't completely stop people from doubting or criticizing him. He wishes his critics understood his journey better. Maybe if they knew his story, they would judge him less, he said. 

However, Kyrgios confesses to not having a deep love for tennis. He is mainly motivated by the desire to care for his family and prove that even underdogs can achieve great things. He admits to Jay Shetty that he feels exhausted and contemplates not playing anymore. The physical strain of the sport and the surgeries he had undergone at the age of 28 took a toll on the sportsman. So, he now feels conflicted about continuing his tennis career.

The entertaining nature of sports is another topic that made the tennis player contemplate the future of his career. Kyrgios feels like he's had to play for others rather than himself, which has been draining. Despite having his best year, he still feels like a "circus animal," pressured to fulfill expectations of being an entertainer on the court. 

Nick Kyrgios is currently facing physical challenges, such as ongoing pain and the need for extensive rehabilitation. Kyrgios is frustrated by the public's expectation to recover quickly and perform at the highest level. He stresses that athletes are also human and need time to heal. Therefore, Kyrgios plans to retire in one to two more years. 

Complicated Relationship with Tennis

Being an international athlete comes with immense pressure. Having experienced public rejection and being negatively portrayed by the media made Kyrgios doubt himself. He shares with Jay Shetty that he doesn't feel welcome on the field every time. In Australia, for example, the tennis player feels disliked, recalling being booed off the court at the Australian Open. This hostile reception and media criticism have strained his relationship with playing in his home country. 

In contrast, Kyrgios told Jay Shetty that he enjoys playing in the U.S., where he feels the energy and appreciation from the fans match his own. Similarly, he finds the Asian audience respectful and appreciative of entertainment.

Kyrgios believes that his career might have differed if he had been perceived as a "nice guy" initially. He told Jay Shetty that the bad boy impression led to more sponsorship deals and a better public image. However, these struggles helped him grow and also brought him opportunities to help others. Kyrgios' achievements in tennis are less significant to him than the platform he has to assist others. He uses his experience to support people going through difficult times. He finds this aspect of his career the most fulfilling.

Moreover, Jay Shetty and Nick Kyrgios discuss the need for more space for passion and personality in tennis. The tennis player felt particularly unwelcome because of his big personality and a background that didn't fit the traditional tennis mold. This treatment led to exhaustion and disillusionment with this sport, but it also heavily impacted his family life.

Happy Relationship

Maintaining a relationship in the public eye, particularly with the influence of social media, is a real challenge nowadays. Kyrgios attributes the success of his current relationship to firm boundaries and mutual respect. He shares with Jay Shetty the importance of communication and patience - he and his girlfriend navigate the pressure of being in the spotlight by setting clear boundaries, especially on social media.

Previous relationships have taught Kyrgios the importance of respecting these boundaries to ensure a healthy relationship. He believes aligning views on social media presence is crucial for a relationship's success. Jay Shetty and Radhi have a similar approach to social media.

It's OK to Cry

Kyrgios admits to Jay Shetty that he used to cry frequently but now tries to control his emotions more. However, society still frowns upon men expressing their sadness with tears; there is still a stigma against crying.

Both Jay and Nick Kyrgios agree that finding a balance is essential – acknowledging and feeling emotions without always succumbing to them. Kyrgios views the ability to stay strong in emotional moments as a form of healing and getting stronger, similar to recovering from a physical injury. The world needs to be more inclusive and embrace this emotional release because keeping it all in builds up inner pressure.

Missing Grandma

Kyrgios opens up to Jay Shetty about the loss of his grandmother, who was his best friend during his childhood. He now regrets not spending enough time with her when his tennis career took off - he considers that his career took away precious moments they could have shared. 

Kyrgios often feels the pain of losing his grandmother, especially at night. He used to feel regretful and resentful toward tennis because he invested time in sports at the cost of spending time with her. Still, now he tries to view it more positively, recognizing that his constant thoughts of her signify their deep love and connection. 

Lessons Learned

Kyrgios reveals to Jay Shetty that the memory of losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic haunts him, as he believes he could have won. He spent months over-analyzing the match, questioning his decisions. However, he has come to accept that consistently defeating top players like Djokovic is a rare accomplishment, and this insight has helped him find peace with the outcome.

Tennis teaches the art of being a good loser, as defeat is a frequent experience, Kyrgios explains. It is, however, vital to move on quickly from losses, adapt, and prepare for new challenges. Tennis is like life: its ups and downs, but resilience and consistency are key to success.

Yet there are many lessons to be learned, some of them the hard way. Jay 

Shetty realizes that no one else can pave his path to success; it's a journey he must undertake himself. However, receiving recognition and encouragement in the process is motivating.

Keeping a Cool Head in the Spotlight

Nick Kyrgios discussed moments of regret in press conferences and games with Jay Shetty, where he feels he hasn't acted true to himself. There is a constant pressure of instantly facing the media after matches without getting time to process his emotions or even eat. He recounted instances where he reacted aggressively to questioning. Due to his upbringing and experiences with bullying, he admitted that his immediate retaliation often reveals a version of himself he's not proud of. 

Kyrgios regrets these moments, especially knowing a broad audience, including children, sees them. He emphasizes that these brief instances in press conferences don't accurately represent his character. Jay Shetty understands the struggle of showing a side that isn't reflective of your true self and the frustration of being misunderstood based on some public moments.

Moreover, Kyrgios admits that breaking rackets can sometimes feel good to release built-up frustration. He notes that legends like Djokovic and Serena Williams have used these moments as a reset to improve their game. Yet he needed to find the balance between expressing anger constructively and avoiding violent or harmful behavior, especially considering his influence on younger fans.

Embracing Mindfulness

Kyrgios shares with Jay Shetty his struggles with discipline and consistency, especially the challenges of practicing mindfulness. He admits he is still a work in progress, grappling with dark thoughts and finding it challenging to be alone with his mind. Despite starting practices like Pilates and being mindful of his breathing, Kyrgios confesses he is not yet ready for disciplined activities like meditation.

Kyrgios also opens up about the emotional burden of feeling like he's not enough and letting people down, influenced by millions of opinions over the years. However, in time, he has come to terms with the possibility that he may not achieve everything others expected of him. He chose to focus instead on being happier with his path.More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Nick Kyrgios ON How to Deal With Being Misunderstood & Stop Trying to Live up to People’s Expectations” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

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