Infotainment Factory: Hewitt: Silver lining to Kyrgios' rankings dive

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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Hewitt: Silver lining to Kyrgios' rankings dive


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Two-time grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt says Nick Kyrgios' slide down the rankings this year could make him one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw at January's Australian Open.

Speaking exclusively to Wide World of Sports after signing on as part of Nine's commentary team for the marquee event of the summer, Hewitt said Kyrgios was the "unknown" leading into the Australian summer, with the explosive former world number 13 facing the prospect of missing out on a seeding.

Having started the year with his first ATP title win on home soil with a scintillating run in Brisbane, Kyrgios' year nosedived after a strong showing at the Australian Open, with the tempestuous 23-year-old crashing out in the third round at Wimbledon and the US Open after withdrawing from the French Open due to injury.

He is currently ranked 37 in the world, putting him out of the seedings and potentially in the firing line of a top-five player in the early rounds of his home grand slam.

Hewitt's still got it in 2018

While that would be a disappointing result, Hewitt said Kyrgios often played better without the pressure of favouritism, making him a nightmare draw for the contenders in the early rounds.

"He'll be trying to get through into the second week for sure but he may be touch and go to get seeded in the Australian Open, so he'll certainly be one of the most dangerous floaters if he's not seeded," Hewitt said.

"Nick's a little bit of an unknown coming into this summer. He's coming into Brisbane and he's defending the title, so he'll have a bit of pressure on him going into that one. It's really up to him to get himself in the right place physically and mentally to play his best tennis and if he does that anything could happen."

Hewitt's Nine co-commentator and American great Jim Courier took that point even further.

"Nick played very well at the Australian this year, he went pretty far," Courier told Today.

"If he can have a good off season and get himself physically prepped, we know he has the upside potential to make a deep run in this tournament and it’s just a question of engagement for him."

While one of Kyrgios' charms is his unpredictability, Hewitt had more confidence in predicting a big summer ahead for teenage star Alex de Minaur, who would slip into the seedings at 31 if the Australian Open started tomorrow.

de Minaur was the good news story of last summer, springing some huge upsets as an 18-year-old with his never-say-die spirit eliciting comparisons to a young Hewitt.

Courier weighs-in on 2019 Aus Open

The Davis Cup captain has spent plenty of time with de Minaur since and is excited by his potential to start 2019 with a bang.

"He had a fantastic breakthrough last Aussie summer and I think the Aussie crowd is going to love the brand of tennis that he plays," Hewitt said.

"He'll go out there and leave everything out there on the court. He'll hopefully sneak into a seeding at the Australian Open, which if he wants to push towards the second week, and you never know what can happen.

"He's the number one Australian at the moment, so hopefully he can have a really good summer."

Two-time grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt says Nick Kyrgios' slide down the rankings this year could make him one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw at January's Australian Open.

Speaking exclusively to Wide World of Sports after signing on as part of Nine's commentary team for the marquee event of the summer, Hewitt said Kyrgios was the "unknown" leading into the Australian summer, with the explosive former world number 13 facing the prospect of missing out on a seeding.

Having started the year with his first ATP title win on home soil with a scintillating run in Brisbane, Kyrgios' year nosedived after a strong showing at the Australian Open, with the tempestuous 23-year-old crashing out in the third round at Wimbledon and the US Open after withdrawing from the French Open due to injury.

He is currently ranked 37 in the world, putting him out of the seedings and potentially in the firing line of a top-five player in the early rounds of his home grand slam.

Hewitt's still got it in 2018

While that would be a disappointing result, Hewitt said Kyrgios often played better without the pressure of favouritism, making him a nightmare draw for the contenders in the early rounds.

"He'll be trying to get through into the second week for sure but he may be touch and go to get seeded in the Australian Open, so he'll certainly be one of the most dangerous floaters if he's not seeded," Hewitt said.

"Nick's a little bit of an unknown coming into this summer. He's coming into Brisbane and he's defending the title, so he'll have a bit of pressure on him going into that one. It's really up to him to get himself in the right place physically and mentally to play his best tennis and if he does that anything could happen."

Hewitt's Nine co-commentator and American great Jim Courier took that point even further.

"Nick played very well at the Australian this year, he went pretty far," Courier told Today.

"If he can have a good off season and get himself physically prepped, we know he has the upside potential to make a deep run in this tournament and it’s just a question of engagement for him."

While one of Kyrgios' charms is his unpredictability, Hewitt had more confidence in predicting a big summer ahead for teenage star Alex de Minaur, who would slip into the seedings at 31 if the Australian Open started tomorrow.

de Minaur was the good news story of last summer, springing some huge upsets as an 18-year-old with his never-say-die spirit eliciting comparisons to a young Hewitt.

Courier weighs-in on 2019 Aus Open

The Davis Cup captain has spent plenty of time with de Minaur since and is excited by his potential to start 2019 with a bang.

"He had a fantastic breakthrough last Aussie summer and I think the Aussie crowd is going to love the brand of tennis that he plays," Hewitt said.

"He'll go out there and leave everything out there on the court. He'll hopefully sneak into a seeding at the Australian Open, which if he wants to push towards the second week, and you never know what can happen.

"He's the number one Australian at the moment, so hopefully he can have a really good summer."

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