Sydney: Brash Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios says he is shocked by the criticism levelled at him and admits to feeling lost and confused.
The 20-year-old`s antics at Wimbledon, including claims of "tanking", arguing with umpires and sarcasm in press conferences, has been slammed in the Australian media with The Australian broadsheet Wednesday saying his reputation was in tatters.
His All England Club campaign -- he was knocked out by France`s Richard Gasquet on Monday -- culminated in a very public spat with swim legend Dawn Fraser on Tuesday, who called his behaviour "absolutely disgusting".
She also told him to "go back to where his parents came from" in comments the much-maligned Kyrgios called "racist" and for which she later apologised.
Australian-born Kyrgios, who has Greek and Malaysian heritage, said he had been scarred by the intensity of the backlash and admitted he was contemplating a way out of it.
"For sure you have those doubts and those thoughts," he told Fairfax Media in an interview published Wednesday about wanting to walk away from tennis.
"I definitely don`t love the sport. I like it to a degree, but I don`t love it.
"It`s been tough for me waking up everyday with negative messages. People don`t really know what goes on in my life. I`ve read a lot of what`s been said about me. I`ve read a whole lot.
"Comments like `he shouldn`t be representing Australia`, `he`s a disgrace`. It`s tough to read. I`m human. I don`t really want them to love me. I don`t want their love, but everyone deserves respect."
While some see his behaviour as petulant and disrespectful, others view his colourful antics as good for a sport in need of characters and he insisted he was not going to change who he was.
"I think that`s something that makes me a good tennis player -- the amount of belief I have in myself and how I back myself," he said.
"The way I talk to the crowd and do all that stuff, that`s when I play my best tennis."
But the Australian world number 29, who split with long-time coach Todd Larkham just before Wimbledon, admitted he had doubts.
"At the end of the day I`m just shocked with what`s happened. I`m just really shocked on how people have responded and reacted and what they`ve said. I`m really shocked."
He added that "it should be simple but right now it`s not really that simple".
"I`m questioning how I`m behaving on court, questioning how I should be playing. When all that other stuff is weighing you down, you know you`re not going to play your best tennis. There`s a lot going on.
"There`s so much other stuff going on that people don`t know about which is probably affecting me a bit on court.
"At times I feel lost. I`m questioning what I should do out there and that`s a bad thing."