One of Lleyton Hewitt’s first tasks as Australian Davis Cup captain will be to bring tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios back into the fold.
Kyrgios was dumped from the Davis Cup squad for last month’s semi-final against Great Britain after a turbulent year of ill-disciplined incidents, most notably his blow-up with Stan Wawrinka, that led to him being fined and slapped with a suspended ban by the ATP.
Hewitt, who officially took over from interim skipper Wally Masur on Tuesday, already enjoys a good relationship with the fiery 20-year-old and will speak with him in the coming days about a return to the Davis Cup team.
“When I came on (early in my career), I didn’t always have the best image out there either,” Hewitt said on Tuesday.
“So it’s about dealing with that and learning from the mistakes that you’ve made over time and becoming not only a better person off the court but also a better tennis player.
“Nick, I think, is really finding himself at the moment but he has massive up side and I think with the right people around him he can really improve leaps and bounds in the next year or two and hopefully hold up a grand slam trophy.”
Like Kyrgios, Davis Cup teammate Bernard Tomic endured some growing pains early in his career, and Hewitt pointed to his recent rise into the top 20 rankings as an example of what can be achieved with greater experience and maturity.
But Hewitt said it wouldn’t be his job to completely tame the wild child of Australian tennis.
“He’s got to be who is to a certain extent,” he said. “I don’t think Nick realises how powerful his image can be.
“He is so good for the sport of tennis in so many ways … if he can control (his behaviour) to a certain line.
“He brings so many different people to watch our great sport. He does that not only in Australia but across the globe.
“In some ways, he’s like a basketball player trying to play tennis … it’s a great image for our game as long as he does it the right way and that’s obviously what we’re trying to put in place with him.”