Nick Kyrgios is a young star on the rise. Photo: Rohan ThomsonCanberra tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios has targeted a seeding for next year’s Australian Open as his next big goal as he attempts to repeat his Wimbledon heroics at this week’s US Open.
Co-coach Todd Larkham has warned the 19-year-old to forget about sports cars and nightclubs as he deals with heightened expectations after shocking world No.1 Rafael Nadal in London.
The US Open is the first time the world No.58 has directly qualified for a grand slam draw through his seeding, having required wildcards in the past. Now that has been ticked off his bucket list, he has set his sights on a seeding at Melbourne Park by getting through a potentially tough draw at Flushing Meadows.
Kyrgios takes on Russian 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny in the first round on Tuesday morning (1am AEST) and potentially could face evergreen Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the third round, then Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth.
“That’s the big goal by the end of the year, to get seeded for the Australian Open, which is top 32 in the world,” Larkham said.
“That would guarantee he doesn’t play another seed the first couple of rounds, it’s really important. If he can win a couple of rounds in America, that will move his ranking significantly, it’s a big opportunity for him.”
Larkham and Australian Davis Cup captain Josh Eagle share the coaching duties for Kyrgios, and Eagle is his mentor when on the road. Larkham said the partnership would continue until at least the end of the year.
Kyrgios has copped a barrage of sponsorship and media requests since his stunning upset of Nadal in the Wimbledon fourth round.
“It’s easy to get sidetracked with all this stuff, but if you’re not winning matches, the sponsors disappear pretty quick,” Larkham said.
“Most sponsorship deals last two or three years and they’re not going to be renewed if you’re only not winning matches, but also not behaving yourself off the court. Part of our job is making sure he’s not doing anything stupid in sports cars, nightclubs or whatever.
“The three weeks I trained with him [in Canberra] before he left, he had about 30 media requests,” Larkham said. “Our job is to keep him grounded and keep him working hard, keep him focussed on tennis.”
While Kyrgios potential US Open path has been described as a “horror draw”, Larkham says it is as good as could be hoped for at this stage of his career.
He says Kyrgios can beat Youzhny, a two-time US Open semi-finalist, if he plays with his trademark aggression.
“He [Youzhny] hasn’t been playing his best, but from Nick’s point of view, it’s definitely a winnable match,” Larkham said. “He doesn’t have any weaknesses, but he doesn’t have any massive weapons either.
“I’m not there but that’s what I’d be advising him to do, he’s got to back himself and be super aggressive.”
Kyrgios has said the extra attention “gets to him sometimes”, but Larkham says he handling that extra pressure well.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he copes with it, outwardly he’s coping with it pretty well,” Larkham said. “Rather than feeling like he’s under pressure I believe he’s more confident in his ability and belongs with the top 20 players.
“He got a big pay cheque at Wimbledon, a lot of publicity and sponsors are after him. If you’re going to have all that, then pressure and expectation to perform comes with that. It’s something new for him, but, with his personality, I feel he’ll be fine with it all.”
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