Former tennis troublemaker Marat Safin believes the bad boy act of Nick Kyrgios has run its course, with the Russian ATP Cup captain advising the Aussie to drop the showbiz persona and get serious about his tennis.
Safin, 39, who won the Australian Open in 2005 over Lleyton Hewitt, will guide the Russian side in Perth in group play for the new ATP event which begins January 3.
Safin, whose hot temper caused plenty of tennis turmoil during a career which took him to third in the world, said that the 24-year-old Kyrgios needs to “be a warrior, not an entertainer” on court.
The Australian is currently serving a probationary 16-week period after copping a fine of $115,000 for a meltdown last August in Cincinnati; one more infraction and he will be off the Tour for a period with another large fine assured.
Safin told the AAP that Kyrgios – despite his controversial don’t-care attitude – has the game to win a grand Slam should be focus his attention on that goal.
“I’m not judging and I know it’s sensitive, and you hear three million times that if he gets serious he can be a top-10 player,” Safin said.
“I think he tries to hide his doubts by joking around. He needs to face the pressure and be a warrior, not an entertainer.
“He’s a great warrior; he just needs to face the tough moments and once he does he could have a great career.”
Safin said that Kyrgios need to ride the energy of the crowd if he wants to consistently lift his tennis.
“I know what I’m talking about … it’s difficult to deal with the pressure, a lot of people around you but this is life and the idea is to make less mistakes as you grow up,” the former Russian parliamentarian said.
“(Nick) has great potential, (but) for some reason he isn’t consistent and that’s why the ranking bounces left and right,” he said of the No. 30.
“Time goes fast and he’s not 18 anymore. The years fly, if you don’t wake up now he’ll look back, be 35 years old and that’s it.”
Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur will make up the Australian ATP Cup team which will start in Brisbane during the new competition.