Far from unwanted, Lleyton Hewitt insists Nick Kyrgios remains a “shining light” for Australian tennis, despite his conspicuous absence from this weekend’s Davis Cup showdown with Great Britain.
Kyrgios was overlooked for the blockbuster semi-final tie in Glasgow after being embroiled in endless controversy over the past two months.
Hewitt and Australian captain Wally Masur, though, both maintain the two-time grand slam quarter-finalist has a big future in the sport and ample time to restore his battered reputation.
Kyrgios considers Hewitt a mentor, with the former world No.1 hosting the embattled young gun at his Bahamas base before the US Open and supporting the 20-year-old from his courtside box during his first-round loss to Andy Murray.
“He is one of our massive shining lights moving forward,” Hewitt said ahead of Thursday’s Davis Cup draw in Glasgow.
“He is a big-match player as well and probably three, four, five years away from playing his best tennis consistently week in, week out.
“We are all really good mates with Nick and we get along.
“He is a great guy and I have tried to help him out over the last month or so and he is going to be better for it.”
Kyrgios was omitted from the Cup squad after ongoing discussions with Masur, who thought it best the Australian No.2 regrouped after a turbulent northern summer and also focused on finding a new coach after splitting with Todd Larkham before Wimbledon.
“Nick’s had a really full year, in more ways than one, so far and we just kind of felt mutually this was best for him and the best fit for the team,” Masur said.
“And to be honest, we look at Nick as a 10-year proposition. He’s going to be a great player for Australia, but this Davis Cup tie just came around a bit too soon.
“I’m sure we’ll all see the best of him pretty soon.”
After a fortnight back home in Canberra, Kyrgios took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce he’d return to the ATP Tour at the Malaysian Open starting on September 28.
“Come out and watch,” he tweeted.