NICK Kyrgios can set about resolving one of the few remaining pieces of his tennis puzzle when he returns to the best-of-five sets format in this week’s Davis Cup quarter-final at Pat Rafter Arena.
Kyrgios’s immense danger to the world’s top players has been mostly brought to bear in the past two years in best-of-three matches on the ATP Tour, where he has beaten Novak Djokovic twice and Roger Federer among other elite men.
Australia’s world No.16 has reached the fourth round twice in his past eight Grand Slam events – and ventured no further each time – since his most recent major quarter-final at the 2015 Australian Open.
Best-of-five sets tennis challenges young players to contend with frustrations, temperament and fitness issues – and Kyrgios is not the first young man to take time to adapt.
But he did falter at the Australian Open to a loss, 10-8 in the fifth, to Andreas Seppi, a dangerous opponent albeit one ranked No.89.
Kyrgios takes a 5-3 win-loss record in Davis Cup singles into matches this week against the United States for which Tennis Australia performance director Wally Masur believes he matches up well.
POOR FORM: ‘give Kyrgios a break’
On rankings, Kyrgios would play American John Isner on Friday, with Isner having a 2-1 head-to-head advantage, and Jack Sock, ranked one place below him last week, next Sunday.
The big-serving Isner, who served an unmatched 1159 aces in his 2016 matches, beat him twice in 2015 before Kyrgios won their most recent match, on hardcourts in the final of the ATP Atlanta tournament last year.
“Nick is serving brilliantly and the nature of those matches against Isner and Jack Sock – if that’s how the US go – is you are talking three big hitters,’’ said Masur, a former Davis Cup captain and coach.
Mirka Federer heckles Kyrgios0:42
Tennis: Nick Kyrgios gets jeered by Rodger Federer’s wife during their Miami Open semi-final.
“While there will be tiebreaks, the matches won’t be over physical – it will be rapid fire tennis.
“How he beat Djokovic twice in a fortnight (last month) and the manner he beat him in the space of a fortnight was pretty amazing.
“Nick will have to shoulder a lot of the load (for Australia to win the tie) and there is pressure in Davis Cup. But I’d lean towards Nick against Isner – he must have the sort of confidence which doesn’t wash away easily.’’
Kyrgios last month credited the Australian team environment for helping him out of a “dark place’’ following his Australian Open exit
“The Davis Cup in Kooyong (two weeks later) really helped kickstart his year again,’’ Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt said.
“He came to the tie and had the support of the boys and got the job done. It gave him confidence and belief and since then he hasn’t put a foot wrong.
“He’s made it (Davis Cup success) one of his big goals and it’s really pleasing for me. I wanted to instil that in these young blokes, what it means to wear the green-and-gold and play for your country.
“Nick loves that team aspect, being around teammates that have his back as well. He’s grown up playing a lot of basketball.’’
Originally published as Davis Cup key to completing Kyrgios’s game