Canberra teen set for No.1 junior ranking
Nick Kyrgios is set to be promoted to the world?s No.1 junior ranking. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Canberra's Nick Kyrgios is confident he can thrive on the pressure of being favourite for the Australian Open junior title.
The 17-year-old is set to be promoted to the world's No.1 junior ranking early next week.
Kyrgios cruised to victory in Thursday's final of the junior International Tennis Federation tournament in Traralgon, the main warm-up tournament for the Australian Open that has a list of previous champions including Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick.
Kyrgios will share another thing in common with those famous names when the world junior rankings are updated, his latest victory elevating him to the top of the world junior rankings.
Although proud of the achievement, Kyrgios said his focus was on winning a junior grand slam this year - beginning in Melbourne next week.
Kyrgios said he hoped to follow the example of Australia's Luke Saville, who was the world's best junior last year and made his debut in the main draw of the Australian Open this week.
''I knew if I played my best tennis I would eventually get there and this week has topped it off,'' said Kyrgios, ranked No.2 junior in the world.
''Luke Saville last year was No.1 for the whole year and he went about it really well, he won two [junior] grand slams and it seemed to give him a lot of confidence. He's really transitioned well into the men's game, so hopefully when I take that [No.1] spot, I can gain a lot of confidence and hopefully I can follow in his footsteps.
''Winning today gives me a lot of confidence going into the Australian Open … there's obviously a lot of expectation this year, me being No.1 now, but hopefully I can continue to play how I played this week.
''I don't mind [the pressure], I just need to play well and believe in myself.''
Kyrgios wasn't troubled by any of the world's top juniors in Traralgon, winning all but one of his six matches in straight sets.
On the eve of beating South Africa's Wayne Montgomery 6-1, 6-2 in Thursday's final, Kyrgios had played in the semi-finals before driving the four-hour return trip to and from Melbourne to play in the main draw of the doubles.
Kyrgios won two junior doubles grand slams last year but his former coach Todd Larkham said the former Daramalan College student was capable of dominating junior tennis this year.
''He's conquered the world in juniors, so it's a phenomenal achievement [to become No.1],'' Larkham said.
''The Australian Open's probably more important to him, just being here with friends and family and the media attention that goes along with it. It puts a bit more pressure on him but hopefully he handles it.
''He's clearly the best player there but grand slams are different to other tournaments. There's a lot more media attention and expectation … he's going to have to overcome that aspect of it if he's going to win the tournament.''
Australians have made a disappointing start in Melbourne, Bernard Tomic the only surviving local in the main draws.
But Larkham said players such as Tomic and Kyrgios represent the future of Australian tennis.
''We need Tomic to push into the top 10, which I think he will, then we need guys like Saville, Kyrgios, [James] Duckworth. We need those guys to push into the top 50 in the next few years and that's really what Australian tennis needs, three or four guys in the top 50.''