“I’ve got no regrets.”
It’s a line that gets trotted out often enough, usually at a retirement press conference or during a probing ABC interview – done out-of-studio in some oak-pannelled library.
It always rings hollow, because if someone feels compelled to tell you they’ve got no regrets it’s a safe bet they’re harbouring a stash.
Nick Kyrgios, 20, delivered the line Saturday morning at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, where he’s part of the ‘Australia Green’ team at the Hopman Cup.
It came after a year of the type of controversial headlines not seen in tennis since the heyday of John McEnroe.
Among Kyrgios’ 2015 achievements were a freshman-level sledge to a fellow pro about his girlfriend’s sex life.
Kyrgios let two-time major winner Stan Wawrinka know that “(Thanasi) Kokkinakis banged” his girlfriend, women’s player Donna Vekic, costing him a fine and a 28-day suspended ban from the ATP.
He was accused of tanking a game against Richard Gasquet in a Wimbledon loss, refusing to return several serves.
He pretended to be asleep during the change of ends while getting whipped by Andy Murray at the US Open, and abused linespeople and umpires – incurring a fine at the Shanghai Masters in October.
He also became involved in a Twitter spat with Adelaide Crows captain Taylor Walker (to be fair to Kyrgios, big Tex was the one without his brain in gear there) and was the victim of an astonishingly blunt racist sledge from swimming great Dawn Fraser.
But Kyrgios’ year was not all code violations and contoversy.
He moved into the world’s top 30 for the first time.
His win over Andreas Seppi in Melbourne saw him become the first teenager to make two grand slam quarter-finals since a bloke called Federer did it in 2001.
He made his first ATP Tour final, in Portugal, beat Federer in Madrid and trumped Milos Raonic at Wimbledon – the same man who’d bested him in the quarter-finals a year earlier.
Kyrgios says we must take the good with the bad – that tennis fans need to suffer his Mr Hyde to be rewarded by the power and skill of his Dr Jekyll.
“I’ve always been an emotional guy,” Kyrgios said.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve and every time I go out there I just want to win.
“And that’s going to be my main objective throughout my whole career.”
Kyrgios, who turns 21 in April, is one of Australian sport’s most interesting studies.
He’s being mentored by Lleyton Hewitt, who knows a thing or two about being reclaimed by the public after a difficult start to his career.
The famously pugnacious South Australian has the type of personality that would annoy his own mother, but has morphed into a respected elder statesman of Aussie tennis.
Like Alf Stewart, he’s grumpy but we love him. (Stone the flamin’ crows, he’s only our new Davis Cup captain!).
But with Kyrgios, the time for regrets will be at the end of his career, if it hasn’t yielded as much success as his wonderful gifts promise.
For now, he’ll just wear his heart on his sleeve.