Tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios said his life was “spiraling out of control” in the beginning of his career.
The 2022 Wimbledon finalist opened up about his mental health struggles and past drinking habits in Netflix’s 10-part tennis documentary, “Break Point,” which follows the sport’s most talented players. Episode 1 is centered around Kyrgios, who’s become one of sport’s most controversial stars.
At one point, the 27-year-old Australian is in a serious conversation with his girlfriend, Costeen Hatzi, and his manager/close friend Daniel Horsfall, explaining how fame affected him at the start of his career.
“The first four or five years of my career it was so chaotic,” Kyrgios said. “When it was Horse [Horsfall] on tour with me looking after me, when it was basically just him looking after me, he could just see my mental wellbeing just declining every week. My life was like spiraling out of control — drinking every single night.”
Horsfall described that time as “tough,” and recalled having to go out and find Kyrgios on multiple occasions after nights out.
“I used to have your location on my phone and some mornings I would physically go find where you were, what hotel you were at, who’s house you were staying at before tournaments, before a match,” Horsfall said. “That was tough.”
Kyrgios then explained that his struggles changed his relationship with tennis in order to live a more “normal” life.
“I was like, ‘OK I can’t keep doing this,’” Kyrgios said. “I have to be kinder to myself. For my mental health, I could never be one of those players that plays all year round. I couldn’t do that. I value my family, my close, close friends and Cosi [Hatzi] too much to put tennis in front of that anymore. I don’t think it’s healthy.
“I don’t really have any expectations now with my matches. I just want to go out there and have fun, take the pressure off and then we can kind of live more of a normal life. It’s much better like this, that’s for sure.”
Kyrgios’ mother, Norlaila, who makes a brief appearance in the episode from their native Australia, recalled a time when her son was “always angry” earlier in his career.
“I worry about him every day because he’s gone through some really really unhappy times,” Norlaila said, later adding, “He just became aggressive. He was always angry. Always angry at everything.”
Kyrgios’ mother can be seen holding a broken tennis racket, before clips from his various on-court outbursts played.
During Wimbledon last July, Norlaila told Nine News that she learned Kyrgios had self-harmed himself years ago. Norlaila recalled Kyrgios’ former manager, John Morris, telling her that former world No. 1 Andy Murray came to him with concern after he noticed evidence of self-harm on Kyrgios’ body while training together a few years prior.
“The self-harming … I saw that and people told me that,” Norlaila told Nine News at the time. “I asked him about it and he didn’t want to talk about it at that time. John spoke to me that Andy is worried about Nick because he can see some evidence of self-harm … And I blame others for that. For just pressuring him, criticizing him. Even people we thought might be supporting him.
“That period was very hard. I just wanted to be next to him constantly so that I could see him. If I could see him I know he’s OK. And if I can’t see him I worry about him so much that it becomes very difficult.”
Kyrgios, currently ranked No. 22 in the world, said in the Netflix documentary that his life changed after he defeated the game’s top-ranked player, Rafael Nadal, at Wimbledon in 2014.
“I really didn’t know how good I was,” Kyrgios said. “When I was 17, I just thought I had a growth spurt, then I started sliding and moving and things got quite serious… 2014, I had my breakout at Wimbledon and my life changed.
“I went from no one knowing who I was, to people camping outside my house. That match changed everything. From that day forward, my expectation to be the next big thing was massive.”
“Break Point” follows Kyrgios throughout the 2022 Australian Open last January, and shows his outburst during an eventual four-set loss to Daniil Medvedev in the second round. Kyrgios smashed his racket on the court and argued with the umpire.
Kyrgios had a similar meltdown during a tumultuous time at the 2022 U.S. Open in September.
“I lose my s–t because of little things happening out there,” Kyrgios said. “I’ve just got such a short fuse. It’s almost like a habit.
“In the heat of the battle I’m two different people. Sometimes I do cross the line that’s just my passion, that’s just my emotion. Millions of people watching you and you’re not playing your best. Would you not be frustrated and angry? … I have to let it out out there.”
After he was ousted from the tournament in a quarterfinals defeat to Russia’s Karen Khachanov, Kyrgios threw a tantrum on the court. He repeatedly smashed his racket, and then grabbed a second racket and threw it to the ground.
In total, Kyrgios was fined $32,500 for his behavior at the 2022 U.S. Open.
Hatzi, 22, attended Kyrgios’ matches throughout the Australian Open and U.S. Open last year. The Sydney-based blogger and Instagram influencer is seen supporting the tennis pro throughout the Netflix documentary, which shows the couple kissing and holding hands.
“He’s not as crazy as everyone thinks he is,” Hatzi said. “I never really watched a tennis game in my life, so this is all new for me.”
Hatzi added that she and Kyrgios had been dating for two and a half months during last year’s Australian Open, revealing that they met online and hung out every day since.
Kyrgios made his relationship with Hatzi Instagram official in December 2021, not long after his highly publicized split from ex-girlfriend Chiara Passari. The athlete has been accused of assaulting Passari stemming from an incident in late 2021.
Kyrgios is slated to compete at the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 16.
The first five episodes of Netflix’s “Break Point” will premiere on Jan. 13. “Break Point” Part 2, which includes episodes 6-10, will follow in June.