Two-time finalist Pat Cash says Nick Kyrgios must blow his early-round opponents away if he’s any chance of winning the Australian Open title.
Kyrgios will head to Melbourne Park next week under an injury cloud after knee trouble hampered him at the Hopman Cup last week.
Cash, who made his first Australian Open final 30 years ago, says because of that Kyrgios needs to win well in the opening rounds to give himself time to recover before the second week of the first grand slam of the year.
“I’ve always felt that to have success in a slam you need a bit of luck and if Nick’s got a niggling injury he want to get through the first rounds as quickly as he possibly can,” Cash said.
“A long five-set match can make life tricky.”
Cash said that a key to the success and longevity of four-time champion and former world No.1 Roger Federer was his ability to blitz early-round opponents.
“He’s got the sort of game that can blow players away and Nick is developing it,” he said.
“Getting through the early matches quickly is going to be a big advantage to someone like Nick if he’s carrying a injury.”
Cash himself carried a shoulder injury into the 1987 final, losing in five sets to Swede Stefan Edberg.
“I always say this is the one that got away,” the 51-year-old said.
Cash says it’s hard to tip against defending champion and six-time winner Novak Djokovic, but he also believes world No.1 Andy Murray might now have the mental strength for a breakthrough title after five appearances in the final.
He also said a fresh and firing Federer was a chance.
“It’s hard not to tip Djokovic but having said that I think Murray is edging ever closer and he deserves to be world No.1 and he will hold on to that spot for quite a while this year,” Cash said.
“I think Murray is mentally more stable and more consistent and he seems to be more relaxed.
“He’s the one who has got something to prove – Murray’s had a great career and a lot of wins but he still hasn’t quite got over the line in the Australian Open and the French and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get both of those this year.”