Sporting an anime t-shirt, Nick Kyrgios was in great spirits as he walked onto the Ariake Colosseum court for an open practice on Sunday in Tokyo. Now deep into the draw in both the singles and doubles competitions at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, the Aussie remains all smiles.
Kyrgios is a returning singles champion in Tokyo, where he won his third ATP Tour title as a 21-year-old in 2016. He also claimed two junior trophies in Japan in Nagoya (2011) and Osaka (2012).
“I was obviously super excited to get back here into Japan,” Kyrgios said, referencing his past success. “I always play good tennis here. To play in front of the crowd is amazing, they’re so respectful. They just always love good tennis.”
He later added: “It’s always a part of the season and a tournament that I always play, because I genuinely love being here.”
With a Malaysian mother, Kyrgios feels a strong connection to Asia and holds a particular fondness for Japanese culture.
“I’ve always felt comfortable here,” he reflected. “I travelled a lot and I love Asian food. Eating sushi and sashimi and all this type of stuff, I eat that pretty much every day.
“I love the food, I love the culture, I love the people.”
Embracing the local traditions, Kyrgios and doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis visited the famous Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa before their opening match. Kyrgios, an avid gamer, also made sure to visit the Pokémon centre in Tokyo on his travels.
“I love anime, I love Pokémon,” Kyrgios said. “I still usually travel with my Nintendo Switch all the time, playing all these games… Things like Pokémon and stuff, that’s been my childhood, every day. So I had to go to the Pokémon centre and all that.”
With dominant performances in both singles and doubles at the Tokyo ATP 500 events, the fan favourite continues to add positive memories in Japan.