It looked as though the bad boy of Australian tennis was finally starting to actually like the game.

But a single sentence on his birthday told a different story.

Playing in Portugal on his 21st birthday today, Kyrgios marched through to the quarter-finals of the Estoril Open claycourt event with a 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 win over Inigo Cervantes.

It took the second-seeded Australian, who was presented with a cake to mark the occasion by the tournament's ball girls, nearly an hour and 15 minutes to see off the Spaniard.


But then came the comment that proved tennis is still a job and not a passion for the uber-talented superbrat.

"There are 50 things I would rather be doing on my birthday," Kyrgios said after his win.

Kyrgios has repeatedly referred to tennis as a "job", but has been showing encouraging signs that he does want to be the best in the world.

Less than a week ago he posted the Instagram workout video below, with the message: "You get what you give."

You get what you give

A post shared by ^Nicholas Kyrgios^ (@k1ngkyrg1os) on

He said he has been feeling much fitter and stronger, backing up better from matches, and credited a brutal off-season and experience with taking his game to another level.

"I'm just putting in a lot of hard work and it's paying off," he said earlier this month.

Kyrgios has said in the past how tennis was never his preferred sport, but his parents pushed him to stay with it.

"I don't really like the sport of tennis that much," Kyrgios admitted in June last year.

"I don't love it. It was crazy when I was 14. I was all for basketball and I made the decision to play tennis.

"I got pushed by my parents and to this day I can still say I don't love the sport. It is just crazy how things go."

He added: "It's good when you're out there on a tennis court. There's nowhere to hide. It's all you, tactically, physically, mentally.

"But I just love basketball, I love the sport. I always have. I try when I'm on the road with tennis not to watch too many basketball videos and stuff like that, to keep me focused, but it's tough."

Asked if he thought he could have made it as a professional basketball player, Kyrgios said: "I thought I was going to.

"I was trying to get there when I was 14 and every time when I'm playing now I still think I can for some odd reason, even though I'm playing a completely different sport.

"That's just the way it is and unfortunately I think my basketball career has come to an end."

Whether Kyrgios loves the game or not, all that matters is he still wants to reach the top.
There is enough evidence here to suggest that is now the case.

Andre Agassi admitted he had a love-hate relationship with tennis. He won eight grand slams.

So at the end of the day, it's Nick's birthday. He can cry if he wants to.