Nick Kyrgios says he is not quite ready for his tumultuous season to finish, but primed for Lleyton Hewitt to assume the Davis Cup captaincy, as his strong support for the former world No.1 also served to deliver a parting back-hander to outgoing caretaker Wally Masur.
Kyrgios said Hewitt deserved the position for 2016 that he was first awarded in January, only for Tennis to respond to criticism of the closed-shop process by opening up the job to outside applicants. But with Masur electing not to seek an extension, Hewitt is considered a near-certainty to move straight from a playing role into the captain’s chair after his retirement at Melbourne Park in January.
“I think he deserves it,” said Kyrgios, who was left out of the semi-final team that lost 3-2 to Britain in Glasgow in September. “He’s probably the one guy I would probably point my finger to if I had to choose a captain.
“I’m just glad he’s taking over, to be honest. Yeah, I’m going to feel a lot more comfortable playing Davis Cup while he’s in charge.”
Meanwhile, another Hewitt disciple, n No.1 Bernard Tomic, also endorsed the dual grand slam champion’s claims, despite some reservations elsewhere that the 34-year-old would benefit from spending a kind of “gap year” transitioning from one tennis career to the next.
“I want him there, Nick wants him there, we all want him there and I think he deserves the opportunity to be the Davis Cup captain next year,” Tomic told Fairfax Media before his third-round match at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. “I know we have the tie against the USA at home [in March], so that would be a huge launch for him obviously if he was there in the chair, but we’re going to find out very shortly.”
For Kyrgios, the post-script to his typically eventful singles debut at Asia’s Masters 1000 event was to be the post-match review of his most recent code violation, which would determine any fine to add to the US$1500 he was slugged for uttering an audible obscenity in the opening round. Kyrgios was warned for unsportsmanlike conduct after hitting a ball that narrowly missed a line judge after serving a fault in the last game of the second set against Kei Nishikori on Wednesday.
Yet while world No.1 Novak Djokovic believes Kyrgios needs to focus on maintaining his concentration during matches if he is to break into the game’s top echelon, sixth-seeded Nishikori said he did not consider that a major factor in Wednesday’s match.
“I thought he was staying tough all the time,” said Nishikori, who recovered to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. “Even [though] he lost the second set, especially he was doing really well in the first set, he didn’t give me any easy shots. I mean, I heard little bit, arguing little bit. But I tried to stay calm and concentrate what I have to do.”
Having lost a close encounter in the second round of the doubles with Tomic, the next stop for Kyrgios is a brief break back home in Canberra before signing off on his tournament season at indoor events in Valencia and Paris. He will return to Asia for a reprise of his IPTL involvement with the Singapore Slammers, but said his pre-season and early-January plans remain unclear.
“I mean, I’m actually feeling pretty good,” he said. “I got told this time of the year’s tough for all the players – [that] everyone’s looking forward to just finishing.
“I’m actually feeling surprisingly pretty good. I’m actually a bit disappointed that the season’s coming to an end. I think I’m starting to play some really good tennis.”