John Newcombe believes Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios can kick on from controversy-marred 2015 seasons to become world top 10 players but he has provisos for both.
Australia’s top two men Tomic and Kyrgios weren’t among the six nominees for the country’s most prestigious tennis award, the Newcombe Medal, tweaked to include a good ambassador factor this year.
Newcombe said it was fair they missed out but it was no slight on their on-court performance, which had been “terrific”.
Tomic, 23, finished the year as world No.18, while 20-year-old Kyrgios ended at No.30, although both men attracted unwelcome headlines at times.
Three-time Wimbledon winner Newcombe said Tomic’s tennis improvement this year convinced him a top 10 position was possible in 2016.
“It’s not only me saying it, it’s guys like (world No.1 Novak) Djokovic as well,” Newcombe told AAP.
He said Tomic must improve his athleticism to drop his ranking further.
“He’s probably happy with his fitness but for a guy his size, he has to be exceptionally fit in order to get his mobility moving around the court.
“If he does that he can get in the top 10.”
In July, Tomic was arrested in Florida but had all charges dropped against him last month.
He was also outspoken after a nasty spat between Tennis Australia and the Tomics – including Bernard’s father John and sister Sara, the world No.458 – emerged on the eve of Wimbledon.
The rift has since been mended, with Tomic attending Monday night’s gala awards in Melbourne.
Already under fire for some on-court behaviour, Kyrgios’ year reached a very low point when he delivered an unsavoury sledge to world No.4 Stan Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup in August, copping a fine and suspended ban from the ATP Tour and condemnation from all over.
Newcombe agreed Kyrgios had done his time in the doghouse for his off-colour remark.
“Everybody is on his side,” he said.
“He’s definitely a top-10 potential player but all the other stuff has to go away because it doesn’t happen when you’re doing all the other stuff.”
Newcombe said he believed crowds would back the Canberran during the forthcoming Australian summer.
“Everybody’s going to be watching and hoping that he does (succeed) and if he does, everybody’s going to be on his side,” he said.