Todd Woodbridge has implored Nick Kyrgios to use his ban from the ATP Tour constructively to transform himself into a genuine grand slam force.
The first player since John McEnroe a quarter of a century ago to be suspended for poor on-court conduct, Kyrgios has been ousted until January 15, the day before the Australian Open starts.
But the new-age tennis superbrat will be free to return in three weeks if, as Kyrgios has pledged, “he enters a plan of care under the direction of a sports psychologist”.
Either way, Woodbridge – Tennis Australia’s former head of men’s tennis – says the key to Kyrgios reviving his career is improving his physical conditioning in order to minimise the mental meltdowns that triggered the 21-year-old’s suspension.
“This now gives him two-and-a-half months to go and work on fitness and I’m a big believer that the fitter and stronger he can become, that mentally the fitter and stronger he will become,” Woodbridge told AAP.
“That is essential to all of this because a lot of this happens to Nick when he becomes tired.”
Turning 22 next April, Kyrgios is the youngest man to reach two different grand slam quarter-finals since the great Roger Federer.
But the world No.14 has yet to prove he can last the fortnight required to go all the way at a major.
“To be winning slams, you’ve got to be getting through those two weeks and it’s not only the match you play,” Woodbridge said.
“It’s through the practices, through the media commitments. It’s through nervous tension and stress.
“They’re all elements that add up to making you tired and the fitter and stronger you are, the easier that becomes.
“So this is a period for a trainer and his team that, if he chooses to, he has an opportunity to keep improving himself and that will help ultimately the mental side of his game.”
Woodbridge has no doubt Kyrgios is already at a crossroad in his turbulent career.
“The tour is forcing his hand,” Woodbridge said.
“If he chooses not to (seek professional help), then he’ll have a fairly short career and this will be a discussion we’ll have in a different way.
“But I’d like to see him have a long career because ultimately we’re watching someone on the court and thinking ‘wow, wasn’t that an incredible shot’.
“I just want to see him let his racquet do the talking and he’s done a bit of that this year.
“Not many players can say they have won three titles and risen to the top 15 in the world.”