When Nick Kyrgios reflected on why 2022 proved to be the year he rocketed from grand slam-run Wimbledon finalist, he had no qualms about pointing to a ‘secret weapon’ behind the rise.
‘None of this would be possible without him,’ he explained, reflecting on meeting girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, who Kyrgios says changed his life on and off the court in 2022.
The pair met at the end of last year, a relationship from the age of social media that began when Kyrgios saw Hatzi on Instagram, messaging her about buying glasses from her small business and then meeting her .
Nick Kyrgios hails girlfriend Costeen Hatzi as ‘secret weapon’ behind his great year
He was, apparently, already smitten.
But he couldn’t have imagined how his new lover would end up changing his approach to life – and to tennis.
‘It was a very successful year, not only on the tennis court but in general. I feel really, really good about everything and just enjoying life,’ she said.
‘And meeting Costeen was probably my favorite moment, probably the best thing that ever happened to me – and the year I had as a highly motivated and very driven player, was because of him. That was my favorite experience.
Kyrgios went from tennis flop to international superstar after a brilliant 12 months
He met his girlfriend Hatzi when he wanted to buy glasses on Instagram last year
‘I’m just happier off the court, I really try to be happy off the court – and that shows on the court too.
‘He’s just the best thing ever and he just inspires me, believes in my tennis and also believes in me off the court. We have a very good relationship.’
Hatzi has been Kyrgios’ rock, following him to every tournament, supporting him in training and proving his continued support, even earning an invitation to the court at Melbourne Park after he won the Australian Open doubles earlier in the year.
Asked if he felt he was the secret weapon of ‘Team Kyrgios’, he had no doubts. ‘That’s it, that’s it,’ he said.
Speaking at the Diriyah Cup in Saudi Arabia, where his presence at the invitational event caused a stir for a fistful of dollars after showing no interest in competing in the Davis Cup for Australia a few weeks earlier, caused Kyrgios is a mess, as if there is any mess to be made. wash him this moment.
The 21-year-old has followed Kyrgios around the world, supporting him at his tournaments
He is the foundation behind Kygios’ extraordinary trip to Wimbledon this year
Hazi and Kyrgios shared a kiss after the Australian won the Washington Open in August
‘I don’t care if perceptions of me have changed this year, to be honest,’ he said.
‘Either way, I know I stayed true to myself … I played the game the way I wanted to play it.
‘And no matter what people say, my stadiums are always full.
‘A lot of people are attracted to my type of tennis, I’m a kind of icon in the sport and, obviously, it’s been consistent in 2022.
‘I guess you could say it’s been a breakthrough year.’
And could the next breakthrough be a first grand slam singles victory, maybe even in Melbourne next month?
‘Nothing is guaranteed,’ he said, asked about his gut feeling on his chances at the 2023 grand slam opener.
‘I’m training well, enjoying myself, feeling good. That’s all that really matters.
Kyrgios says Hatzi is ‘the best thing ever and just makes me feel amazing’
The Sydney native provided much-needed balance for Kyrgios away from the court
‘Whether I go in there and win the tournament or lose in the first round, I’m the same person.
‘I carry it every day, I’m an everyday person. I don’t think ahead.’
However, he is confident that his best chance in 2023 will be on the Wimbledon grass.
‘For sure, in the four (grand slam) Wimbledon’s always been my first shot to win a slam.
‘It’s still true that this is my best chance, definitely – it’s the biggest and most important.’
Now, Kyrgios hopes to go one step further and win Wimbledon next year
In Saudi Arabia, Kyrgios seemed to be chilling at the end of a year in which he showed the tennis world his best.
But asked by reporters if he was still sticking to his career plan to retire before he turns 30 in 2025, Kyrgios reflected: ‘I want to have a family then and enjoy family time and enjoy all the hard work I’ve done .
‘So if I have a few more years like this, I think I’ll say goodbye. But that’s still two-and-a-half years, so let’s see.’
And how does he describe life for 37-year-old Kyrgios, 10 years down the line?
‘A big family … four, five kids … smoking a big spliff in the Bahamas … fishing maybe,’ he smiled.
‘I won’t work, though. I have enough work now – in 10 years I won’t.’
Until then, there is unlikely to be a dull moment around Kyrgios.