An emotional Nick Kyrgios broke down following his ATP Cup victory on Friday.
An emotional Nick Kyrgios broke down following his ATP Cup victory on Friday.

‘Bigger than tennis’: Kyrgios breaks down

TENNIS star Nick Kyrgios broke down in tears while discussing the horrific Australian bushfires after a stellar victory on Friday evening.

Kyrgios won Australia's opening match of the ATP Cup against Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets (6-4 7-6), giving Australia a 1-0 lead at Pat Rafter Arena, Brisbane before the Aussies finished the tie as 3-0 winners.

During the post-match interview, the former world No.13 was visibly emotional as he lamented the devastating bushfires that have claimed at least 18 lives across the country.

"I don't really care about the praise too much. We've got the ability and the platform to do something. My hometown is Canberra and we've got the most toxic air in the world at the moment, that's pretty sad. It's tough. Sorry," Kyrgios said through tears.

"It's all going to all the families, firefighters, animals, everyone who is losing homes, losing families … it's a real thing. It's bigger than tennis."

Kyrgios added: "It's tough to go out there and concentrate on tennis, to be honest. Every ace I was hitting that's all I was thinking about. Every time I stepped up to the line that's all I was thinking about."

 

Earlier this week, Kyrgios promised to donate $200 to the bushfire appeal for every ace he achieved in the ATP Cup.

"I'm kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I'll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer," tweeted the 24-year-old, who was handed a 16-week suspended ban in September after a series of outbursts.

Teammates Alex de Minaur and Sam Stosur followed suit, pledging their own commitment to help the cause.

 

Kyrgios managed 20 aces against Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff during Friday's 72-minute encounter, meaning his personal tally stands at $4000 after one match. He got off to the perfect start, kicking off his tournament with a powerful ace.

The 24-year-old's serving proved a dangerous weapon against Struff, maintaining a first serve success rate of 82 per cent in the opening set.

Kyrgios ended the match by winning a second set tiebreak, finishing with one final ace to push his tally up to $4000.

Australian Captain Lleyton Hewitt said Kyrgios had been in a good headspace since arriving for the first tournament of the summer.

"He put on a serving display, served fantastic," Hewitt said of the world No. 30's 20-ace effort.

"Struff's not an easy player to play; he bided his time and played a great tiebreak to get out of it."

ATP Cup tournament director Tom Larner said $100 would be donated to the Australian Red Cross bushfire relief and recovery efforts for every ace served by any player and by the end of day one, $21,600 had been raised.

Tennis Australia announced a "Rally for Relief" exhibition match at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Wednesday, January 15 ahead of the Australian Open, with "the world's top players" taking part.

 

Nick Kyrgios sent down 20 aces against Jan-Lennard Struff on Friday.
Nick Kyrgios sent down 20 aces against Jan-Lennard Struff on Friday.