Nick Kyrgios praised for realising his potential and ‘being a really good mentor to a lot of kids’
Former Australia Davis Cup captain Wally Masur believes winning the Australian Open men’s doubles title at the start of the year was key to Nick Kyrgios’ resurgence while he also lauded his compatriot for taking time out to help youngsters.
Kyrgios has always had the potential to become a world-class player and surged to a career-high No 13 in 2016, but his on-court antics often overshadows his performances.
Earlier in his career he admitted that “does not love tennis” while he was also accused of tanking on several occasions.
After slumping outside the top 100 following an unproductive 2020 and 2021 campaigns, things started to click in January.
Kyrgios and his great friend Thanaski Kokkinakis went all the way in the Australian Open men’s doubles tournament to win their maiden Grand Slam trophy.
He then had some good runs on the North American hard-court season and some grass-court events before it all came together at Wimbledon as he reached his first major singles final, finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic.
Masur believes all the pieces started to fall into place for the 27-year-old when he and Kokkinakis won the title at Melbourne Park.
“I said to Nick, ‘mate, well done, you’re a Grand Slam champion’,” Masur said during the launch of the 2023 Australian Open. “He sort of said sheepishly, ‘yeah, it’s only doubles.’
“Winning that whet his appetite for more. [After] Covid and a separation for the tour, he was kind of realising what he’d missed.
“And boy, did he light it up at Wimbledon. I was really encouraged by not just the result, but the way he was playing.
“We saw all of his ability – the full repertoire was there.”
Kyrgios continued his good form after Wimbledon as he won the singles and doubles titles at the Citi Open and reached the quarter-final of the US Open.
He is back up to No 21 in the ATP Rankings.
When away from the hustle and bustle of the ATP Tour, Kyrgios prefers to spend time with youngsters when back in Australia. He has admitted that he has a passion for helping youngsters and Masur has a first-hand account of his softer side.
“Nick has been living in Sydney and two days later [after the Australian Open], he was on court with a young Australian player James McCabe,” the former tennis commentator said.
“He spends time with them, he’s talking tennis with them, he’s encouraging them and he is a really good mentor to a lot of these kids coming through.”
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