February 3, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
N. KYRGIOS/H. Bourchier
THE MODERATOR: How happy you were to finish in two sets, tiebreak in the second?
NICK KYRGIOS: Well, very relieved to finish in straight sets. I thought the level that he brought in the second set was very high. He was serving really, really well. And he started getting on to a couple of my serves and obviously had a couple set points in the second set, which I thought I played amazing on those set points that he had.
That's the tennis I knew it was going to come to, in one of the sets at least, where he was going to raise his level. He's a good player. You know, I wasn't surprised at all by some of the shots he was hitting or how he was serving or anything. He's extremely athletic for his size, as well.
I'm actually pretty happy with the way I played today as well. I played a lot better than yesterday. If I played the way I played yesterday I probably would have lost today. So, yeah, relieved.
Q. Did anything come back to you from the friendship you have had with him and playing against him or practicing against him in the past? Did some of that get rekindled when you played him today, or have you seen him move so far ahead now compared to then?
NICK KYRGIOS: He's definitely improved. I mean, I thought that he was definitely trying to pin my forehand return a lot throughout the match. I mean, I think I hit -- I'd love to see the stats. I reckon I hit maybe five to seven backhand returns the entire match.
He definitely knew my game inside out, and that's from all the practice sets we used to play. He's improving a lot, and that's good to see. He got his first tour level win the other day, so it's only up for him, I think. Hopefully he can just stay the course.
Q. Say much at the end?
NICK KYRGIOS: Well, actually I said -- if I said what I said I'd probably get fined because I had a swear word. I was going to give him a hug but he wasn't feeling it.
But it was just good to see him, good to see him go out there, do his thing. The crowd was behind him as well. Everyone loves an underdog.
Again, I think if he plays some other people he's got a pretty good chance.
Q. Victorians, and Melbournians in particular, love this event. Do you sense that this year they are a bit conflicted, that we're all here, especially us international visitors, when they have worked so hard to contain the virus? Do you think there's a bit of uneasiness?
NICK KYRGIOS: I think for some there would be. I think there are some people overseas that are stuck, they can't come in.
But, I mean, look, I think sport is essential for us. Especially where tennis is such a rich, it's such a rich culture in Australia, tennis is, we've got so many legends of the sport, I think we almost need it in a sense. Whether or not it's the right time, that's not for me to say because we are going ahead with it.
I think as long as everyone follows the protocols then it's okay to go along, you know, even if we -- even if I do get a bit annoyed when I'm walking, the box of towels, I think we all need to stay the course with everything to make sure it doesn't erupt or doesn't take off again, because reality is it's killing people and it's not a game.
So, yeah, I can understand your question. I'm sure some people feel like that too. I'm sure some people that have had family members be affected by it or lose family members, are saying like, What the hell are you doing playing a tennis tournament, you know?
But it's a tough one. It's a tough question.
Q. When you see Perth has this one case of a hotel quarantine guard and the whole city shuts down, do you feel a little nervous, like, Come on, let's just get through this week and, you know, that, Please let this not happen in Melbourne?
NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah, I mean, I don't want it to be happening anywhere. I don't want it to be happening in Canberra, Melbourne, Australia, anywhere in the world. I want the world to overcome this challenge together.
Look, I'm not gonna complain if I have to do a two-week quarantine somewhere else. It's not about me. I have got an elderly -- my mom is incredibly sick. If she gets COVID, you know what I mean? There's too much risk in all of this. I don't understand what's so hard for tennis players to understand. Like, you're just a tennis player. Do you know what I mean? It's not life and death like this is.
Again, people are gonna have their peace. That's not gonna change. So hopefully we go about it right.
Q. Are you feeling more relaxed with this Australian season than you have been in previous ones? And do you feel that whole year that you have essentially been off could extend your time playing the sport?
NICK KYRGIOS: That's a tough one. My relationship with tennis can change in a minute, but I think me being away from it, I'm not getting as angry, I feel. Like when I'm missing shots, I am.
But I don't know, obviously it's instilled a lot of perspective in everyone, but I feel like I've had that throughout my career anyway. I haven't really acted as if tennis is the be-and-end-all for me anyway.
But I just take it day by day. I don't set any goals. I don't want to say I'm going to play tennis for longer or shorter. I just want to take it day by day, show up every day, try and play good tennis, try and be positive, try and be a better role model than I was last year. That's it.
Q. How much did Kobe's death maybe help you with that change of perspective?
NICK KYRGIOS: Ah, I mean, I have a tattoo of him on my arm now, so when I look down obviously it brings me back memories of how he would have competed, how he would have been remembered by.
Yeah, I mean, I think it's made me -- I definitely feel as if when I'm on court -- I feel like I've been around the tour for a while now. I feel like I'm not going to get as angry as I used to. I just feel as if I know what style of tennis I need to be playing to win matches now.
Yeah, obviously I'm frustrated, but, I mean, I could have got angry today when he got the net tape to bring up the set point. I mean, I just stay composed, and that's the way it is.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports