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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday January 4, 2017

Nick Kyrgios

“I’m still trying to learn how to channel my emotions and get on with it," says Nick Kyrgios.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

There’s a thin line between madness and geninus.

Nick Kyrgios has crisscrossed the line before and says successfully straddling it will be a key to his 2017 season.

Watch: Federer vs. Zverev in Bongo Battle

The talented and temperamental Kyrgios can play with explosive clarity between the lines.

Quieting the chaos that erupts between the ears can be a challenge for the 21-year-old Aussie.

“I know that some parts of this year, I’m going to be struggling mentally,” Kyrgios told the media at Hopman Cup. “I’m still trying to learn how to channel my emotions and get on with it.”

Former world No. 4 James Blake believes Kyrgios will be a major player for the next decade once he masters the art of self control.

“Kyrgios, in my opinion, is the most talented of the young guys,” Blake told Tennis Now. “He’s got a huge upside. One of the biggest serves in the game, he places it well, he can do everything with it. (He has a) huge forehand, he moves well.”

Blake doesn’t buy the perception that Kyrgios is a physically-gifted, but mentally-challenged player pointing out young players can endure growing pains publicly.

“I actually think he’s a smart player,” Blake said. “It’s just a matter of controlling his temper a little bit and figuring out his schedule and what he needs to do to be a little bit more professional.

"I think he was getting pretty harsh criticism about that. Because he’s young and he’s learning. I think we all make certain mistakes when we’re first on tour. He’s learning from all of his mistakes and he’s getting better and better. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for the next 10 years on tour.”

Improved fitness could make Kyrgios mentally tougher. Fatigue can make Kyrgios cranky. He drew some criticism tapping out of his US Open third-round match with Illya Marchenko after falling behind two sets to one. That retirement came after a listless straight-sets loss to eventual-champion Andy Murray in the Wimbledon fourth round.

Still, Kyrgios captured three titles last season achieving a career-high rank of No. 13.

Richard Gasquet, who also endured the pressure that comes with being a highly-touted teen phenom, says Kyrgios' explosiveness makes him a potential world No. 1.

“I played Nick many times, we have a history together, so I know his game very good and I always said he has the potential to win a grand slam, to be No.1 in the world," Gasquet told the Sydney Morning Herald after his Hopman Cup victory. “No problem with that, no doubt about it. For me he has the potential to win (an) Australian Open—maybe not this year but in the future. He's one of the most improving players on the tour and he has a big future." Gasquet’s comments come weeks after 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal called Kyrgios a future No. 1.

"Kyrgios is already at the top. (He is) a player who has unbelievable potential,” Nadal said. “He has (to) focus on himself, and he can become world number one and win a Grand Slam."

Mischa Zverev has seen the magic and madness of the world No. 13 first hand.


2017 gonna be aight

A video posted by Nicholas Kyrgios (@k1ngkyrg1os) on

Zverev was on the opposite side of the net in when Kyrgios imploded in a 48-minute tank job in Shanghai last October

The bizarre meltdown, which came a few days after Kyrgios won his third title of the year in Tokyo, initially resulted in a $16,500 fine. The ATP later fined Kyrgios an additional $25,000 and suspended him for eight weeks. That suspension was shortened to three weeks as Kyrgios agreed to see a sports psychologist.

Zverev, older brother of Alexander Zverev, said Kyrgios is a true tennis “genius” and believes that brilliance comes with a quirky disposition and unconventional approach to the game.

“If you are a genius you are different,” Mischa Zverev told AAP in an interview. “You can’t be a genius and be completely normal otherwise it would never show. My brother is very different than I am and they are a similar age so I know what they are going through and it’s totally understandable.

“I’m not saying it’s good or bad but that’s his (Kyrgios’s) personality.”

“As a tennis player you work out there and everyone can watch you,” Zverev told AAP. “If you have a bad day in the office everyone can see it. If other people have a bad day at work they smash the computer and no one knows about it and you start afresh the next day. It’s very human.”


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