Tennis legend Andre Agassi says Nick Kyrgios’s next coach must accept the mercurial young star warts and all and delve deep into his tortured soul.
Agassi can relate to Kyrgios’s struggles with mental demons and admits he endured his own “long, painful process” before emerging as one of the game’s all-time greats.
Lauding Kyrgios as as a player with “as much talent as possibly you could ever see on a tennis court”, Agassi on Saturday said the troubled youngster needed to be loved rather than hounded.
“You just never know what journey someone’s been through,” Agassi said from Las Vegas.
“Has he ever really had somebody who attempts to understand him? Has he ever ever really felt that he’s worthy enough to be cared about?
“What is his struggle and what is his angst and what does he feel? Has anybody done anything except bark at him about what he should be versus understanding who it is that he is?
“Those simple human engagements create a dynamic where you either earn respect or you don’t.
“I can honestly say from a distance if Nick Kyrgios doesn’t respect you, it’s because you haven’t earned it or it’s because he doesn’t respect himself.”
Agassi, tennis’s original rebel without a cause, said the timing wasn’t right for him to coach Kyrgios. Two other men touted as possible coaches, former players Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill, have also ruled themselves out of contention.
But the eight-times grand slam suggested his own life mentor, strength and conditioning guru Gil Reyes, may be willing to lend a sympathetic ear to Kyrgios.
Kyrgios concedes he may need a coach. Personally, I thought his brother was doing a great job. #AusOpen
— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) January 18, 2017
“I don’t think anybody’s going to drop wisdom on Nick that changes the trajectory of somebody’s life,” Agassi said after promoting his role as Lavazza Global Ambassador.
“Unfortunately life has to be the greatest teacher. Life can strip us, it can humble us and it’s only at those points that we search for something deeper, of more value.
“When you’re in that place, of course I think a person like Gil can be an incredible asset.
“Gil set the platform for me to hear (my coach) Brad Gilbert.
“I don’t know if I would have responded to Brad if I didn’t go through a period of time of believing that life can be and should be different.”
Agassi suspects Kyrgios – like the American himself early in his career – might be fighting a fear of failure, which could be triggering his emotional meltdowns and clashes with officialdom.
“I was somebody who cared more than I portrayed because it was my defence,” Agassi said.
“It was my way of hiding myself, from myself, and I needed to come to terms with that through a long, painful process.”
Agassi believes Kyrgios could be anything if he exorcises his mental demons.
NIck Kyrgios has as much talent as possibly you could ever see on a tennis court.
“But obviously that’s being met with a little bit of begrudgement on his own part for one reason or another.
“When stories like that can turn, somebody like that has the ability to all of a sudden move into new uncharted sort of territory.”