Nick Kyrgios is three years away from winning a Grand Slam and the latest in an illustrious line of tennis ‘bad boys’ bound for greatness, said former Wimbledon champion Jan Kodes.
The Czech said Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase and Roger Federer were also a whole load of trouble at the same age – yet they matured and won a slew of majors.
Kodes who won the French Open in 1970 and 1971 then Wimbledon in 1973, said modern players were surrounded by coaches, advisers, physios and psychologists – yet the key components of becoming a winner had not changed in 50 years.
The 69-year-old said Kyrgios, the talented but temperamental Australian whose volatile behaviour on and off the court shook up this year’s Wimbledon, definitely had the makings of a Grand Slam champion.
“I’ve seen him play. Kyrgios has great volleys, serves, everything. He plays a round game. He needs three more years and he might win,” Kodes told AFP.
“Look at Connors, McEnroe and Nastase when they were 20. They all behaved badly. Federer in the juniors was terrible, breaking racquets. The press would like to have Kyrgios behave like he’s 28. But he’s not, he’s 20.
“You need time to get experience. When you are young, you don’t think. You don’t have any responsibility. You can take risks.”
Kodes, an inductee in the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF), said self-belief, an array of “weapons” and, critically, deploying those skills at the right moment remained the difference between good players and champions.
He was back at Wimbledon, where he received on Wednesday a giant, personalised ring commemorating his induction into the ITHF, as per the tradition in sports halls of fame.