Sydney (AFP) - Troubled Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios says he has finally found a purpose in life and will build a facility for disadvantaged kids after being struck by the death of a young boy from cancer.
The combustible but talented 22-year-old, who had another meltdown during the China Open final loss to world No. 1 Rafael Nadal on Sunday (Oct 8), has long struggled with his demons, repeatedly losing focus mid-match and arguing with umpires and fans.
He has made no bones about not taking tennis seriously enough, and on Monday said it was down to feeling like he had no real purpose in life.
Now he has one.
"You've no doubt noticed that I'm not all that good at hiding the fact I'd rather be somewhere else a lot of the time. So, what have I been doing it for?" he wrote in www.playersvoice.com.au, a website for sportsmen to air their views.
"You hear people talk about being motivated for their kids, or a cause, or something more than just themselves.
"It's inspiration, pure and simple, and it gives them focus when times are tough. There's a reason underpinning everything. It's a higher purpose than just collecting a pay cheque.
"I haven't had that and I've always been envious of those who did. I think I've found my purpose in the last couple of months. I'm building something."
The world No. 19 revealed he had a vision several years ago to create somewhere for disadvantaged and underprivileged kids to "hang out, be safe and feel like they were part of a family".
There would be tennis courts, basketball courts, a gym, a sports field to play football, food and beds.
"It's all I've been thinking about outside of tennis since then," he said, adding that he and his family were scoping out land in Melbourne and looking for organisations to partner with.
The plan is to have it underway by the Australian Open in January.
His dream came into focus after he had a hit-up with a little boy with terminal brain cancer called Piotr before a match at the Australian Open this year.
The boy died several months later and Kyrgios said he would never forget him.
" Tennis is a great life - we're well-paid and the perks are pretty good - but it can feel empty if you're just doing it for the money. I know what it's all for now," he said.
"I'm playing for them now."
Despite his new-found direction, Kyrgios said he was not trying to make out all was now well in his life, and at his age, he still had a lot to learn.
"All I can tell you is the difference I feel inside now that I know how to channel my career - the money, the publicity, the notoriety - into something meaningful."