Lleyton Hewitt has blamed Nick Kyrgios’ absence from a couple of hardcourt ATP events on an emotional hangover from his demanding Australian Open campaign, in which he played a pivotal role in the bushfire relief efforts.
Kyrgios was valiant but fell in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Rafael Nadal, ending a month that saw him impress both on and off the court.
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Kyrgios helped spur on the tennis world to donate millions to help those devastated by bushfires across the country, a move that converted many of the stubborn types who seemed to find fault in every little thing he did.
And Hewitt, his Davis Cup captain, wants Kyrgios to be selective on when he plays to protect his physical and mental wellbeing on tour.
“He entered Delray Beach and New York before that but after how many matches and big matches he played at the Australian Open he had to withdraw from New York — he wasn’t ready to go then,” Hewitt told The Age.
“And I think that’s really important for him mentally and physically throughout the year, depending on how he is feeling. Last week in Delray Beach he went there and tried to play, he wasn’t quite ready.
“Now he is in Acapulco, I think it is going to be such an important time for him to pick and choose and the fortunate thing for him is sometimes coming into a Davis Cup tie you want guys to play a lot of matches.
“Nick, on the other hand, is a guy who the ball striking is gonna be there. It is about him being mentally and physically ready to compete and I think this is good for him.”
Kyrgios revealed the impact of what had been a momentous summer of tennis in Australia after his exit from the first Grand Slam event of the year.
“I feel like I’ve made progress as a human. A tennis player, I don’t really care about as much,” he said.
“But yeah, I mean, I feel good … I want to keep going in this direction, for sure.
“I always had pretty good perspective. If anything, it did fuel me and made me play harder. They’re (the bushfires) still going, everything is still going.
“Yeah, I mean, the last month for me has been pretty hectic, been pretty emotional. I’m pretty tired. I want to try to continue to help where I can.”
Although he then added: “I’ve been like this for a long time. It’s just you guys probably learnt some new things about me. I haven’t changed much, to be honest.”
Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur, John Millman, Jordan Thomspon and James Duckworth were picked on Tuesday in Australia’s Davis Cup qualifier squad for a tie against Brazil in Adelaide beginning March 6.
Hewitt has queried the future of the event if it is as poorly attended as it was last year under the new format.
Under the new Davis Cup format, which began in 2019, the world group (top 18 teams), no longer play home and away ties but rather a multi-team tournament in Madrid across one week.