Kyrgios invests in basketball team as tennis star joins NBA players on ownership group

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Nick Kyrgios has poured a chunk of his tennis fortune into Australian basketball team South East Melbourne Phoenix, already planning for a future beyond his tennis career.

The 27-year-old, who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year, said he could even get involved on the playing side with the Phoenix if he feels able.

That might be wishful thinking on behalf of the long-time basketball fan, who still has ambitions left in tennis, including the hope he will be a serious trophy contender at the Australian Open over the coming fortnight.

Kyrgios joins Los Angeles Clippers star John Wall and a string of former NBA players in investing in the Phoenix, and he said on Thursday: "This is a big opportunity. Everyone knows my basketball roots, so to be a part of the NBL, it's a massive move for me in my career.

"I feel I've got some great relationships within that team already. I'm one of the tennis players that doesn't travel as often. I'm looking forward to being in Australia a bit more."

He said he would be "quite hands on", and it remains to be seen whether he does travel less in tennis, cutting down his tour commitments further. Of players ranked in the ATP top 25 – Kyrgios is number 21 – nobody has played fewer tournaments in the last year than the 14 events Kyrgios has entered.

"I've got a lot of things happening at the moment and this is one of the biggest," Kyrgios added. "My tennis career's not going to last forever. I've been on tour now for nine, 10 years and I feel I'm building that platform to have these experiences and relationships, so I've got to use it while I can.

"I'll do anything for the team. I'd get out there, rebound, play with them. If my body's up to it, I'll get out there, 100 per cent."

Last January saw Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis roar to doubles glory in Melbourne, but this time around Kyrgios is making the singles a clear priority.

He will face Russian Roman Safiullin in round one, after the draw was revealed on Thursday. Novak Djokovic is a potential quarter-final opponent.

"I'm one of the best players in the world, so I'm definitely going into the Australian Open, or any tournament, with confidence," Kyrgios said. "I've proven I can go deep in a grand slam, and with the support of the Phoenix and my team, and Australia on my back, hopefully it's going to be a good couple of weeks.

"It's a bit different for me, being one of the favourites. Usually I'm a dark horse.

"This is the first time I've gone into a slam feeling I'm one of the guys that can really take the trophy and knock on the door. Usually I've got a nothing-to-lose [attitude], just putting on a show, but I've got to really find that balance in the next two weeks.

"Obviously I'm capable, but there's so many more players in the draw who are capable as well."