Nick Kyrgios’ return to form “couldn’t have come at a better time” and it’s sure to leave Australian Davis Cup coach Lleyton Hewitt smiling.
A frustrated Kyrgios lost the Cincinnati Masters final to Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-5, unable to maintain the form that saw him beat world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals.
But Kyrgios will jump from 23rd to 18th in the world rankings and injuries to a trio of big-name rivals mean the Canberran will receive a crucial top 16 seeding at the US Open.
Todd Woodbridge expects Hewitt will be licking his lips at the sight of a firing Kyrgios, who he believes has reaffirmed his standing as one of the best young players in world tennis.
“He makes me chuckle with the whole week this week,” Woodbridge said.
“When the stars align, it’s usually entertaining and there is the evidence of what he is capable of doing. I chuckle because it’s great to watch but it makes me nervous each week about what’s going to happen.
“This was important for him, this week, to have a week that turns it around and puts him back in the frame of that best group of upcoming players.
“He beat the new No. 1 in the world, and these are the milestones that really get back to showing him when things are in the right place and he keeps mentally sound, he’s capable of winning big tournaments.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time leading into the US Open. It will fill him with a lot more confidence, and not only that, straight after the US Open, Australia has a real chance to put themselves in a Davis Cup final.
“Lleyton Hewitt will be smiling after this week.”
Defending US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has had knee surgery, while three-time winner Novak Djokovic is battling a right elbow issue.
Kei Nishikori has also been ruled out the Open tournament after rupturing a tendon in his wrist, bringing his season to a premature end.
Woodbridge says having three of last year’s US Open semi-finalists ruled out makes this year’s tournament a “massive” chance for Kyrgios to make a statement.
“There’s going to be a lot of focus on him, because the US Open is one of those tournaments where if he can be himself, relaxed and play his tennis, they will love him in New York,” Woodbridge said.
“New York is made for him, it’s the type of tournament where he can actually get the fans to get behind him and help him.
“It’s important that he learns how to utilise that because that’s something that can be really useful to him throughout his career as it extends.”
Kyrgios capitulated in the Cincinnati Masters final with three double faults in the second set at 5-5 to hand Bulgarian Dimitrov a decisive break.
It was all world No. 11 Dimitrov required and he took the set to stamp his authority in the match.
Kyrgios hit 15 aces to six but was weaker on serve throughout, winning only 36 per cent of points on his second-serve in the second-set.
Dimitrov did not lose a set on the way to winning his first ATP Masters tournament, with Kygrios in full praise of his opponent’s fitness.
“I was struggling a couple of weeks ago and he got me out on the practice court. We practised for an hour-and-a-half and I was struggling and he was fresh,” Kyrgios said.
“You had me mentally today already. I was like, ‘I know this guy’s fitter than me’.” with AAP