Kyrgios can win an Australian Open

Tennis greats John Newcombe and Pat Cash believe Nick Kyrgios can win the Australian Open.

Just probably not this one.

Newcombe and Cash are bullish about the prospects of the precocious 20-year-old ahead of his third-round blockbuster with big-hitting Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych on Friday.

But the former Wimbledon champions agree Kyrgios needs time to develop elite fitness to go with his explosive game.

“He’s not far away from challenging for an Australian Open. You watch him play and he seems to be able to raise himself to another level when he needs to,” Newcombe said on Thursday.

“He just needs to keep working at it.

“I’m not sure he’s quite there yet on the physical side and we’ll only find that out when he has to have a couple of tough five-set matches one after the other.

“But certainly if he’s not 100 per cent physically fit, then he’s not going to win an Australian Open because you’ve got to do a heck of a lot of hard work as you get to the quarters and the semis.

“The guys that are at the top now, they can do that, and I don’t know if Nick can yet.

“But he’s fun to watch and he’s got a great game – he’s got the potential to be a top-four player.”

A quarter-finalist last year, Kyrgios has loads of rankings points to defend against Berdych, a semi-finalist the past two years, in a clash Newcombe labelled “a 50-50 match”.

Cash is more confident Kyrgios can upset Berdych to progress to a possible fourth-round match-up with Roger Federer.

“I absolutely think he’ll get through Tomas Berdych, but whether he can back up with five sets and then another five sets … it might be a little bit beyond him this year,” Cash said.

“I think Nick has absolute grand slam potential – I’m not sure if it’s a little bit too far for him this year to go all the way but next year for sure.

“He’ll do really well in this tournament and in the future.”

Kyrgios said he could draw some confidence from his success against Berdych at International Tennis Premier League level late last year, but acknowledged the big stage at Melbourne Park was a total different ball game.

“You can’t compare grand slams to ITPL,” he said.

“I know what he’s capable of. He’s one of the best players in the world.

“He’s going to be wanting to win as much as I’m going to be wanting to win, so it’s going to be tough.”

Kyrgios required treatment on his serving arm during his eventful second-round win over Pablo Cuevas and was troubled by a similar injury throughout last year.

But he insisted it wouldn’t derail his Open campaign.

“Nothing to worry about,” said the 29th seed.

Neither Kyrgios or Berdych have dropped a set en route to the third round and the winner will face either 12th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic or Spanish 24th seed Roberto Bautista Agut on Sunday for a quarter-final spot.


First meeting


Age: 20

Ranking: 30

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US1,786,525 ($A2.59 million)

Career titles: 0

Grand slam titles: 0

Career win-loss record: 38-30

Australian Open win-loss record: 7-2

Best Australian Open result: quarter-finalist 2015


Age: 30

Ranking: 6

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US23,861,931 ($A34.61 million)

Career titles: 12

Grand slam titles: 0

Career win-loss record: 547-284

Australian Open win-loss record: 36-12

Best Australian Open result: semi-finalist 2014, 2015

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