Mark Philippoussis expects controversial rising star Nick Kyrgios to continue to test the boundaries as he works out what’s best for his game.
Ahead of this month’s Australian Open former world No.8 Philippoussis said Kyrgios relied on emotion to fuel his game, but the 20-year-old also needed to be aware of “crossing the line”.
“Nick is an emotional guy … and certain players play better when they’re upset because it gets them pumped up and gets them into the match,” Philippoussis said.
“That tends to work for Nick but there’s also a fine line and in the next couple of years he will be figuring out what that line is for himself to get pumped up on himself in a positive way and get into the match.
“He loves to win and he made an amazing two sets to love comeback last year in the round of 16 (against Andreas Seppi at Melbourne Park) so you know he’s hungry and he wants it, so it’s about him figuring out what works and where that line is.”
Kyrgios’ battered reputation hit a new low last year with an infamous sledge to Swiss Stan Wawrinka about his girlfriend.
The Canberra prodigy is looking to get a solid start to the year heading into the Open, currently playing in the Hopman Cup in Perth.
He will also play for the first time in the traditional lead-in tournament at Kooyong in Melbourne next week.
“It’s great that Kyrgios is starting off the year healthy and he’s going to have at least six matches under his belt before he plays which is great,” Philippoussis said.
“He’s going to be really sharp and ready for the Australian Open, that’s for sure.”
Philippoussis said Kyrgios had the talent to win this year’s Open but would also need plenty of lucky to knock off defending champion world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
“To dominate the year like (Djokovic) did was incredible and it’s going to be tough to back up but he’s so mentally and physically strong I feel like the deeper the matches go the stronger he seems to get so it’s people chasing him.”
Philippoussis, 39, is back in his home town of Melbourne to play in the Legends tournament at the Australian Open, with former women’s champion Kim Clijsters and finalist Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario joining the usual veterans line-up of Henri Leconte, Pat Cash and Martina Navratilova.