Nick Kyrgios plans to let his racquet do the talking as he bids to spring the first big shock of the US Open on Tuesday.
Condemned and sanctioned for his trash talking, Kyrgios hopes to remind fans of his playing talents with a first-round upset win over third-seeded former champion Andy Murray in the headline act on day two at Flushing Meadows.
He’s just one of nine Australians in action, but all eyes will be on Kyrgios when the 20-year-old hits the court for the first time since copping a four-week suspended ban for his crude sledging of French Open champion Stan Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters.
Despite falling to Murray in all three previous clashes, including in straight sets in Melbourne and Paris, Kyrgios believes he can turn the tables on the Scot to really shake up the men’s draw.
“I’ve played him three times now, I know what his strengths are and know how to play it. I just have to execute it on the day,” Kyrgios said in his first interview since being placed on notice by the ATP.
A quarter-finalist at the Australian Open despite battling a back injury, Kyrgios feels the best he has all year after a torrid week training with Lleyton Hewitt at the former world No.1’s Bahamas base.
“Obviously having Lleyton on court’s helped me a lot,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve been practising well, my preparation’s been really good and I feel like I’m playing some really good tennis.
“He’s (Murray) in form too, probably playing the best tennis of his life, winning Montreal and losing to Federer last week, pretty tight, so I know that he’s one of the best players in the world at the moment.
“I just have to go out there and play the right style of game and believe I can win.”
Thanasi Kokkinakis, the Davis Cup teammate at the centre of Kyrgios’s taunting of Wawrinka, has put the issue behind him and is backing his Open doubles partner to take the fight to Murray.
“Nick’s shown he can beat quality players before. If he puts it together on the day, regardless what happens off the court, his tennis is good enough if he’s on,” Kokkinakis said.
“But obviously Murray’s a tough ask. He’s been playing some good tennis of late too.
“So it should be a good match. It’s a hell of a first round.”
Win or lose, Kyrgios is vowing to be on his best behaviour – even though the ATP’s tough sanctioning doesn’t apply at ITF-governed grand slam event.
Kyrgios considers Murray a friend and mentor.
“He’s always been someone I can sort of talk to, if that’s sort of through Twitter or in person,” Kyrgios said.
“He’s been someone that’s helped me. I’ve got a good relationship with him and he knows the journey as well.
“He’s been through some tough times, so it’s a lot of ups and downs out there.”
Kokkinakis, up against French 12th seed Richard Gasquet, Australian No.1 Bernard Tomic and former champions Hewitt and Samantha Stosur, are also in action on Tuesday, as are James Duckworth, John-Patrick Smith, Jarmila Gajdosova and Ajla Tomjlanovic.