Australian tennis legend John Newcombe has warned Nick Kyrgios he must improve his work ethic to reach the heights a player of his talent deserves.
Speaking at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame annual induction dinner, Newcombe said Kyrgios can eventually rank among tennis royalty if he keeps his head down and works hard.
Kyrgios was present at the dinner earlier in the night, but had gone home to bed by the time Newcombe spoke.
70-year-old Newcombe said he learned the same lesson from the late Harry Hopman, one of Australia’s most decorated tennis figures of all-time.
“He told me ‘you’re a very good young player but you haven’t won Wimbledon yet and if you don’t have discipline you are never going to achieve your aim,’ the seven-time Grand Slam winner said.
Although he was irritated by Hopman’s unforgiving and relentless approach to keeping his players’ feet on the ground, Newcombe said discipline is key to the success of any young athlete like Kyrgios.
“That’s the type of message I’d like to get across to young guys like Nick,” he said.
Kyrgios burst onto the scene earlier this year when he shocked then World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Entering the tournament ranked No. 144, Kyrgios became the youngest player in 22 years to defeat the world’s top male player at a Grand Slam.
Although his dream run was cut short at the last eight stage by Canadian Milos Raonic, the Australian’s heroics saw him crack the top 70 and grab the attention of the tennis world.
In a separate interview with Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun, Newcombe said Kyrgios needs to work on his fitness if he is to continue to rub shoulders with the best in the world.
“He’s had cramps a couple of times in tough matches and that tells you something,” he said.
“Yes, the potential is there but there’s a lot of work to be done.
“I’m not privy to how much he’s training but we never used to cramp because we did loads of training. That’s the one thing you can control, your physical endurance.
“Do you think you are just going to get there? Is the team around you giving you good advice or are they just yes people? Is someone kicking you in the bum if you’re not training hard enough?”
Newcombe was also questioned about another Australian tennis star, the controversial albeit promising Bernard Tomic.
Tomic, who was dumped by his management company earlier in the year, has featured in a catalogue of unfavourable headlines since turning professional in 2008.
His list of misdemeanours include traffic offences such as speeding and failing to stop for police.
But Newcombe sympathises with the troubled 21-year-old, citing his relationship with his father as a potential hinderance to his development.
“It’s a really difficult situation when your father is involved,” said the former Davis Cup captain.
“He’s got to become his own man and until he does, and starts making decisions himself, I can’t see him taking that extra step.”
Newcombe believes Tomic’s big-hitting game is attractive but he lacks the stamina to call upon his powerful groundstrokes as required.
“I’m a fan of Bernie’s game but I think he is only touching the edges of how good he can get,” he said.
“I often feel his tennis is too controlled, he doesn’t release enough. He has some great power when he utilises it, but, again, I question how fit he is.
“When you’re a big guy like that you have to do more training than the little guys because you have a big body to move around.”
Tomic was knocked out in the first round of the Shanghai Masters by American Jack Sock 6-7 (4) 7-6 (4) 4-6 last Monday.