Wise ‘nutcase’: Kyrgios enjoys best of both worlds
Largely lost among Nick Kyrgios' latest swipe at Novak Djokovic on Monday night was a new aura surrounding the Australian tennis star.
Kyrgios remains as mischievous and as much of a smart arse as ever, so some things never change - but others are worth noting.
This isn't another 'Kyrgios has changed' piece. In fact, the 25-year-old is who he is and there hasn't been a great deviation.
You either love him, or you hate him. What's notable now is how comfortable Kyrgios is with that dynamic.
In victory or defeat in the past, Kyrgios may as well have walked into the interview room post-match with boxing gloves on, so ready was he to pick a fight with anyone who questioned him.
Interrogations about his verbal barrage towards his player box in his first-round victory might have previously pushed him over the edge, or drawn a sarcastic gibe.
Instead, Kyrgios jokingly called himself a "nutcase" and articulately explained why he did what he did, including that sometimes you just have to let your emotions out.
Those who know Kyrgios best say he bounces out of bed each morning with a grin on his face and is always the life of the party, without trying to be the centre of attention in his social group.
"I always had a pretty good perspective, even before last year happened," a philosophical Kyrgios said, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic that's seen him play moral arbiter with several star peers.
"But, dude, I just feel old. I feel like this sport has stressed me out. I feel like an old soul. At the end of the day, I know it's just a tennis match.
"Obviously, I'm going to get angry as I'm playing. I'm a competitor - I always want to win. I don't beat myself up over losses. I'm extremely lucky to even be in my position.
"I'm healthy. I've got great friends, great family, an amazing girlfriend back home. I'm blessed. That's what I mean. Look at me, I'm a wise man now."
Kyrgios took great joy at his latest Djokovic commentary - self-congratulating himself for his "f------ good answer, bro" - but soon after gave a thoughtful answer on what makes Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal great.
He even cheekily called respected British journalist George Bellshaw "Georgie boy". It was that kind of press conference.
Yet the light and shade was evident in his response to facing 25th-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert in round two.
Humbert won their only prior clash, with Kyrgios retiring with a sore wrist as the defending Acapulco champion while trailing 6-3. The Mexican crowd booed him off court.
"He's one of the most improved players on tour," Kyrgios said of Humbert.
"I played him in Acapulco. I wasn't near 100 per cent, but … just from that set I played with him, I was like, 'This guy is a young up-and-comer, he's going to be playing good tennis'.
"(But) I'm not even thinking about that. I'm just glad I got through today. I've got plenty of things I need to do to get my body right."
Whatever happens, Kyrgios will still be happy.
Originally published as Wise 'nutcase': Kyrgios enjoys best of both worlds