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Kyrgios in good head space after Open run

Tennis greats are hoping Nick Kyrgios has turned the corner after the polarising talent departed the Australian Open without the trophy but with his reputation restored.

The young hot-head won over a new legion of fans this summer with his largely incident-free run to the Brisbane International title and fourth-round Australian Open showing.

Unlike last year, when he was booed off Hisense Arena for his childish second-round collapse against Andreas Seppi, Kyrgios received a standing ovation after a gallant four-set loss to world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov.

The 22-year-old’s commitment to underprivileged children through the establishment of his NK Foundation and his hitting up with a terminally ill nine-year-old girl hours before his Melbourne Park blockbuster on Sunday night have also earned widespread praise.

But it’s Kyrgios’s newfound focus on court that has been most impressive.

Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and fellow former world No.1 Jim Courier hope the evolution continues.

“Nick has matured a lot in the way that he’s handled adversities on the court,” Hewitt said during his fighting display against Dimitrov.

“I think he’s learning about himself in these stressful situations, high-profile situations, things he didn’t deal well with in Australia (in the past).”

Despite falling a win short of a second quarter-final appearance in Melbourne, Kyrgios was happy with his Open performance, which will likely lift the Australian No.1 to 14th in the rankings, one spot behind his career-best.

“I just feel like I’m trying to get better,” Kyrgios said after his 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) defeat.

“There were periods where I stepped on the court last year where I was just doing it for the sake of doing it.

“I feel a lot better this time around. Last year I really didn’t know what I was going to do after the Australian Open.

“I feel like I have more of a vision and goal for this year. I’m in a good head space.”

While Kyrgios’ Australian summer has him bullish about the year ahead, it seems finding a coach isn’t on the agenda.

“I’ve lost one match this year, so I’m doing alright,” he said.

“I like kind of doing things on my own terms. I just like the freedom.”

The 22-year-old will take a few days to relax and recover from the Open before heading into camp for Australia’s Davis Cup first-round tie against Germany in Brisbane from February 2-4.

Kyrgios also credits his time in the Cup fold and its team environment with aiding his development and, with his spearhead without a fulltime coach, Hewitt is happy to continue serving as a trusted mentor.

“I think I have as good a relationship as anyone with Nick and (I’m) trying to build on that,” Hewitt said.

“He is still his own person in a lot of ways. He has a way he likes to practise out there as well.

“There are certain areas of his game he knows he has to keep working on and keep improving. It’s happening slowly.”

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