The 20-year-old Aussie tennis star enjoyed his major breakthrough beating US Open champion Marin Cilic. Read our interview with the young Aussie champ.
Tell us about where your love of tennis stemmed from?
My older brother used to play and I was kind of the annoying little brother who wanted to have a go, I had a bit of talent and my mum and dad worked hard to pursue it.
You were a basketball player at school, was there a moment where you had to choose between that and tennis growing up?
Yeah I was around 14 and I remember having to make the decision, I would have loved to have gone the basketball route but I was better at tennis.
You’re one of three kids – do your brother and sister share your ‘sporting gene’?
My brother definitely does. He’s a personal trainer and has become my training advisor. I owe him a lot for where I am now in terms of fitness. He’s been an amazing motivator and helped me get the best out of myself. My sister was a pretty good tennis player too, the three Kyrgios’ used to rock up at events and give it a go, she’s also an amazing dancer – she has used to appear in shows in London, Japan and Singapore
Tell us a little about your family history? Your mum is Malaysian and your Dad, Greek – how important is it to you to keep in touch with that heritage?
While I was born and brought up in Australia, I’m really proud of my family culture and very close to my Malaysian family. I’ve flown with Malaysia Airlines to visit them since I was a boy and always love going back to my mum’s roots. Keeping that link to my heritage is very important and it’s why I recently partnered with Malaysia Airlines as it will further enable me to keep in touch with my family culture.
My dad is Greek and I’m very proud of my Greek heritage too, we are going back to Greece this year for the first time which is exciting.
Were both Greek & Malay culture/traditions part of your upbringing? In what ways?
Let me put it this way, food was always awesome at our house and meal times were and are a focal point. I love Malaysian food, I love satay chicken, sambal beef and the curries too. Greek food is also great and my dad makes some dishes he grew up eating. Food in both cultures is very prominent and as a foodie I have been spoilt.
Have you visited Greece and Malaysia? If so, tell us about your favourite places/parts/experiences?
My favorite place in Malaysia has to be Kuala Lumpur where my relatives are based and I love the Cameron Highlands – I got to play tennis there the last time I was in Malaysia! I’m fortunate enough to visit my mum’s family every couple of years and it’s always special.
We haven’t been to Greece before but we are all going this year which will be awesome.
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
Good music, good weather, good food shared with good people. For me a truly memorable holiday has everything to do with who you go with.
Your career highlight to date is arguably reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year, defeating Raphael Nadal & Richard Gasquet to get there…Can you talk us through the impact this had had on your professional game, and also on you personally?
Reaching the Australian Open quarter finals was special too, it’s difficult to single one match or one event that has been the stand out but the Gasquet, Nadal and Seppi matches are very special to me. The atmosphere in the Seppi match on HiSense arena was the best I have ever experienced. Professionally now I am usually on the bigger courts in front of big crowds which is great and personally that is pretty thrilling, although when you play in front of more people you become more recognized and that has changed massively.
Tell us about your time at The Australian Institute of Sport – how important is this as an institution to support up and coming Aussie sporting stars?
It was good for me as I was able to train there whilst being at home which was vital for me, I had the support and discipline of my family whilst having the working day to day venue at the AIS it was perfect for me and I was able to have clear differentiation from one to the other.
You travel the world on the Pro tour, how do cope with being away from family and friends so much?
As exciting as it is, it can get pretty lonely on the road and I get homesick, so I get my brother, sister, mum and dad as well as friends to come and keep me company at different times. It’s really important to see them when I’m travelling.
What is the difference, to you, between being a good player and a good sportsman?
Being a good sportsman really shows who you are as a person, tennis is a high pressure game and at times you can let your emotions get the better of you but you have to recognize quality when you see it or be fair when an injustice has occurred.
How do you maintain your health/fitness regime while you’re travelling? Any travel tips?
With tournaments all around the world it’s essential to arrive at events feeling physically and mentally fresh and able to compete with the world’s best players. That means I need to fight jetlag fast. I do this by opting for an overnight flight and using the flight time to fall in line with the sleep pattern of any time zone changes. You are much more likely to sleep on an overnight flight than on an afternoon one, and it’s the best way to replicate your normal schedule. It will also be easier for you to reset your internal clock.
My brother Christos is also good to travel with. As a personal trainer and my training advisor, he’s really good with nutrition and stuff on the road. I train pretty much daily and will always squeeze in a gym workout even when travelling.
Your last purchase was… A Chipotle
Music you listen to…a lot of Drake
Your fave place in the world is…sounds cheesy but it’s definitely home
Your sporting highlight was… Beating Nadal at Wimbledon or Seppi at the Aussie.
Your favourite thing to do on the weekend is… Shoot hoops
Your personal style off the court is… Relaxed but sporty
Your sporting icon is… Kevnin Garnett or Roger Federer
What would we find in your carry-on bag? I-pod, Beats headphones, and some hidden snacks!
Your travel essentials are…Tennis rackets of course!! I don’t think I’ve ever travelled without them. Rackets aside it will be my music and Beats headphones – they’re ideal for relaxing and zoning out any distractions and of course my Malaysia Airlines Enrich Card!
Your favourite pre-workout snack is… Probably sushi
Your fitness philosophy is…When it comes to fitness you can’t think about the work you put in yesterday. You need to make sure you’re getting the most out of every day.
Your favourite recipes/food…I don’t cook but you can cook for me and I can tell you what’s good