Nick Kyrgios thought Monday during his eight-final match with Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open a lot of Sunday Kobe Bryant. The 24-year-old Australian, who lost to the Spaniard in four sets, says the basketball legend gave him extra motivation to return to the game.
Kyrgios entered the Rod Laver Arena with a Bryant shirt and kept the Los Angeles Lakers uniform on while playing. The visibly emotional Australian struggled to hold back his tears.
"Basketball is my life. When I woke up and read the news, I became quite emotional. When I think about it, it is also very difficult," Kyrgios said at his press conference after his match against Nadal in Melbourne: 3- 6, 6-3, 6-7 (6) and 6-7 (4).
"I don't think people like him are still made. Kobe was different. The way he trained, the way he played and the way he did other things. He was just special."
Nick Kyrgios visibly entered the track in Melbourne emotionally. (Photo: Pro Shots)
"I thought of the things that Kobe stood for"
Bryant, one of the best basketball players of all time, died on Sunday at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The other passengers, including his thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna, did not survive the tragic accident.
Although Bryant mainly caused a furore in basketball, he was also a big fan of tennis. The American met several world toppers and last year provided the toss for the third-round match between Roger Federer and Daniel Evans at the US Open.
Kyrgios was indeed emotional because of the death of Bryant, but he also managed to gain strength during his match against Nadal. The current number 26 in the world lost the first set without a 6-3 chance, but fought back in the second company and also showed resilience in the fourth set.
"I thought about the things that Kobe stood for and what he wants to be remembered about. That helped me to Nadal," Kyrgios said. "Especially when I was at a break behind in the fourth set, I thought about it. And I fought back."
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