Tennis great Rod Laver has offered insight on Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios, believing the controversial player has finally earnt his spot at the top.
The record-breaking 84-year-old’s recent comments are a stark contradiction to his 2019 criticism when he said Kyrgios “would never learn” to be the best player because of his on-court attitudes.
Despite remaining just as controversial, Laver said that Kyrgios’ Wimbledon final and his loss to world No.1 Daniil Medvedev at the US Open, both served as turning points for the tennis diva.
As reported by Yahoo Sport, Kyrgios’ newfound confidence in himself has helped him to stay immersed in his game.
“Kyrgios has all the ability in the world, every shot that you could wish to make,” Laver said.
“He’s probably one of the biggest servers in the game. He’s accurate, he can play under pressure.
“I was thrilled when he reached the final, but he didn’t think he could win Wimbledon. In my mind, I said, ‘Hey, put in your best performance. You may surprise yourself.’
“A month or two later, I said, ‘You can win some of these matches. Why don’t you apply yourself, man?’”
Laver believes a conversation he had with Kyrgios following his Wimbledon final had left its mark on the young Australian.
Congratulations on winning your 7th Wimbledon Novak Djokovic, that was a controlled and masterful performance. Bad luck Nick, you have so much talent, I hope to see you in another Slam final soon. ????
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) July 10, 2022
“He realised, ‘Shit, I am good enough, I can do this,’” Laver said.
“That was the greatest thing that happened to him. Unfortunately, he said that he wanted to go back to Australia and not play in the Laver Cup.
“But he knows that he can play and compete now. Don’t walk on the court thinking, ‘If I get three games, that’s enough.’
“Now he’s thinking, ‘Next year? Wimbledon? You’re going to see a different player.’”
It’s become evident to fans of Kyrgios that he’s working on his attitudes and in-game headspace, with the athlete offering profound insight on his US Open loss to Karen Khachanov, despite losing his cool when the match ended.
A meltdown from Nick Kyrgios after losing in the US Open quarterfinal! pic.twitter.com/hUTaihlTBF
— Third and Five Podcast (@thirdandfivepod) September 7, 2022
As the dream of a grand slam victory came to an end following his 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7(3) 6-4 defeat, Kyrgios described the loss as “heartbreaking”.
“I’m obviously devastated,” Kyrgios said.
“But all credit to Karen. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior. I thought he served really good today. Probably the best server I played this tournament, to be honest, the way he was hitting his spots under pressure.
“It’s just devastating. Like, it’s heartbreaking. Not just for me, but for everyone that I know that wants me to win.
“People don’t really care if you got better on the day, or you lost four in the fifth, or played one of the best matches of the tournament. You lost.
“That’s all people remember at a Grand Slam, whether you win or you lose.”