Former World No.1 and 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton believes Nick Kyrgios has more ability than he ever had and definitely has what it takes to win Wimbledon, one day.
Kyrgios beat Novak Djokovic twice, in back-to-back tournaments recently, pushed Rodger Federer to the limit in one of the matches of the year in Miami, and then led Australia to the Davis Cup semifinals. In a statement of intent, Kyrgios confirmed that he will play in the Aegon Championships at The Queen's Club - a tournament that Hewitt won four times on grass - just before Wimbledon.
"Oh, he's probably more talented than me!" said Hewitt in an exclusive interview with the Telegraph's Tennis Podcast.
"The things he can do are pretty remarkable. He's so good he can get bored on the court. The key is for him to concentrate and stay in the moment - knuckle down and work hard on every point and he has done that. He can then potentially see how good he can be because until you give your best effort on every point you won't know. Maybe he was even scared of that. Now he has been prepared to do it we are seeing how good he can be. He can beat anyone on any given day. Milos Raonic making the Wimbledon final can spur him on because to my mind he is as good if not better. And he can do it on every surface. Even a slow clay court with his power. He can win Wimbledon one day for sure. He is up there already just behind the top four or five guys."
The key to Kyrgios' recent rise, in Hewitt's opinion has been the support of friends, family and the camaraderie of the Australian Open Davis Cup team.
'After he lost early at the Australian Open he was pretty disappointed," said Hewitt. 'We got him to come around the other team-mates and that was massive for him. He realised that people had his back and were going to come around him when times were tough. He responded brilliantly, helping out the young players and becoming the leader of the team. We now have a group chat (on the phone) throughout the year and that's really helped Nick. Everyone's on there speaking to him. Telling him how well he's doing. Scheduling is important for Nick because it gets lonely on the tour. He's got his girlfriend Aijla, he's got a mate on tour in Matt Reid and he needs to make sure he has a couple of weeks off every so often to keep him in a happy place.'
It had been a scheduling failure which, in Hewitt's view, had led to burnout for Kyrgios, and some of the behavioural issues that followed - he was fined in a match in Shanghai last year for lack of best effort.
'It's like a snowball effect," said Hewitt. 'He's done some things he wouldn't be proud of, and then he gets defensive when it's brought up. And then he doesn't want to show the real Nick Kyrgios. I experienced some of that in my career. It's about learning to deal with stressful situations. He's learning.'
- The Tennis Podcast is a weekly, downloadable tennis radio show with daily editions at the Grand Slam tournament. It is presented by David Law (a BBC 5 Live, BT Sport commentator) and Catherine a Whitaker (a Eurosport presenter) and produced in association with Telegraph Sport and Eurosport.
How to listen to The Tennis Podcast:
- iTunes, iPhones, iPads: http://po.st/TPE_KyrgiosItunes
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- Download: http://po.st/TPE_KyrgiosDD