TENNIS NEWS - Tennis great Lleyton Hewitt has tipped showman Nick Kyrgios to make a deep run at this month's Australian Open, despite his fellow Australian not playing for a year.
The charismatic 25-year-old last performed in February at the Acapulco Open before a wrist injury and then the coronavirus pandemic brought his season to a halt.
He opted not to travel for the US or French Opens, but returns this week in the ATP Murray River Open at Melbourne Park ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year on February 8.
Hewitt, Australia's captain at the ATP Cup this week, was courtside at Rod Laver Arena during a Kyrgios training session and said he looked sharp.
"Nick, I think as a whole him having a bit of a breakaway from the sport where he's positioned, for his body and mind I think is a good thing," Hewitt said of Kyrgios' time away from the sport.
"Because he hasn't played a match for so long, though, it's not going to be easy for him just to come out and switch it on either.
"I think it's perfect for him to hopefully get through a few rounds in one of the ATP tournaments that he's playing this week.
"But from a whole, he looks to be hitting the ball well, clean, he relies on his serve and is serving big at the moment. He's hitting the ball well enough to push deep in the Australian Open for sure."
Despite his immense talent, Kyrgios has yet to go beyond the quarter-finals at Grand Slams and has slipped to 47 in the world.
But he remains hugely popular and said over the weekend he was "mentally completely refreshed".
"I feel like I am playing well and am ready to go," he added.