Nick Kyrgios has credited four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka for helping him to deal with his inner demons after toppling Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the third round of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami.

The Australian showed a new-found laser focus during the clinical display against Fognini as he cruised to a 6-2 6-4 victory in just 61 minutes.

You can watch Kyrgios discussing his improved mental state in the video above

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He later credited his improved mindset for allowing him to remain composed on the court and take his game to another level in recent times after revealing in February he had self-harmed during mental health battles earlier in his career.

“The people around me, I pushed them away and those are the people I needed the most,” Kyrgios told the Tennis Channel.

“My family, I fell out with my family for a while, I’ve got a really good tight-knit group of people around me and I’m not afraid to open up anymore, I think that’s the biggest thing.

“I think males around my age really struggle with coming out (and admitting they need help).

“(They think) it’s a sign of weakness or something if you’re struggling mentally, but I don’t think that’s the case at all.

“I think it’s a sign of strength to be vulnerable and tackle your problems head on.

“It’s all good to be feeling you’re not enough or anything like that and I think that’s the best thing I did, just admit that I was struggling and now I’m playing some great tennis and happy.”

Nick Kyrgios is showing an improved focus on the court.
Nick Kyrgios is showing an improved focus on the court. Credit: Getty

The 26-year-old also revealed that he had found a kindred spirit in Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who has blazed a trail on the topic of mental health in sport.

“Naomi kind of pulled the pin at that French Open (in 2021) when she (disclosed she) was dealing with all that negative kind of emotion, and when she just kind of pulled the pin, I related to that,” Kyrgios said.

Osaka withdrew from last year’s French Open after a row with tournament organisers over media duties, explaining that she had been suffering from depression for almost three years.

Her disclosure inspired a number of top athletes to make public their own struggles.

“I felt like I constantly played so much under that mental stress and negativity that I genuinely just couldn’t function anymore with the pressures. I couldn’t function with the negativity,” Kyrgios told reporters in Miami.

Naomi Osaka of Japan has struggled with her mental health in recent years.
Naomi Osaka of Japan has struggled with her mental health in recent years. Credit: Robert Prange/Getty Images

“Every day was just constant negativity from you guys, from eventually my family, eventually from my friends, from everyone.

“There was no positivity, and it was just eating me up and I just genuinely hated my life.

“It’s taken a long time, and obviously I’m just towards a point where I’m just happy now … I had to fix it myself.”

Kyrgios reveals mental health battle

Earlier this year the tennis superstar took to Instagram to reveal the depths of his mental health battle with his fans.

After gaining a new legion of fans by winning the Australian Open men’s doubles final with Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyrgios a picture to Instagram in February of himself looking pensive on court.

“This was me 3 years ago at the Australian Open,” he wrote.

“Most would assume I was doing OK mentally or enjoying my life … it was one of my darkest periods.

“If you look closely, on my right arm you can see my self harm.

“I was having suicidal thoughts and was literally struggling to get out of bed, let alone play in front of millions.

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family & friends.

“I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone.”

Kyrgios goes on to explain that he had trouble opening up to his loved ones about his problems and was having difficulty maintaining a positive mindset.

“I know that day to day life can seem extremely exhausting, impossible at times,” he wrote.

Nick Kyrgios.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is into the last 16 of the Miami Open after defeating Fabio Fognini. Credit: EPA

“I understand that you feel if you open up it may make you feel weak, or scared.

“I’m telling you right now, it’s OK, you are not alone.

“I’ve been through those times when it seemed as if those positive energetic vibes were never ever going to be reality.

“Please, don’t feel as if you are alone, if you feel as if you can’t talk to anyone, I’m here, reach out.

“I’m proud to say I’ve completely turned myself around and have a completely different outlook on everything, I don’t take one moment for granted.

“I want you to be able to reach your full potential and smile.

“This life is beautiful.”

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios has been open about his struggles. Credit: AP

The raw honesty of Kyrgios’ post had fans and followers congratulating him for opening up and “keeping it real.”

One of the first to take to the comments section was girlfriend Costeen Hatzi.

“I love you, it takes a lot of courage to open up about this, proud of you,” she wrote.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.