Fitzgerald gives teenage prodigy Kyrgios the nod
Bright future ... Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Colleen Petch
Canberra whiz-kid Nick Kyrgios has the power game and the determination to translate his junior success to the senior ranks, former Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald says.
Less than a month after his breakthrough victory in the singles at the junior Australian Open, Kyrgios has risen more than 260 places in the world rankings thanks to strong performances in various Challenger and Pro Tour tournaments.
The 17-year-old's booming serve and destructive ground strokes are his main weapons in age-group competition, and Fitzgerald believes those attributes will serve him well on the world stage.
John Fitzgerald in Canberra on Thursday. Photo: Colleen Petch
''He's got a modern type of game,'' Fitzgerald said. ''The game's evolved in the last decade or two where you need a couple of big shots to hurt opponents.
''He's got a serve that's world class for his age and development, the same goes for his forehand.
''When the opportunity arises, he's not afraid to pull the trigger and go for the shot, and that takes courage.
''He's got some really good assets.''
Fitzgerald was in Canberra on Thursday as a special guest for the annual Maxim Chartered Accountants' Tennis Invitational Charity Day at the Forrest Tennis Club, which raised more than $100,000 for an adventure playground at the new Women's and Children's Hospital.
A winner of seven majors doubles titles, Fitzgerald was at the helm of the Australian Davis Cup team for nine years before passing the reins over to Pat Rafter in 2010.
Rafter showed he has Kyrgios in his plans when he included the youngster as an orange boy for last year's tie with China in Geelong, and is likely to be in the running to reprise his role as a hitting partner for Lleyton Hewitt and company for the encounter with Uzbekistan in April.
Kyrgios has travelled across the country since becoming the world's No.1-ranked junior player with his Australian Open triumph.
His best result was a semi-final in a Challenger event in South Australia, while he also made the quarter-finals of a Pro Tour tournament in Melbourne. But in a sign of the ups and downs of moving into the senior ranks, he fell to No.2 seed Brydan Klein 7-6, 6-4 in the opening round of the $15,000 Mildura Grand Men's International earlier this week.
''He's got a lot of work to do, but he understands that,'' Fitzgerald said.
''He seems like a level-headed kid and very competitive, which you need. If you understand the direction you're going and not think you've achieved everything by winning a junior grand slam event, he can go a long way.''
Fitzgerald said Kyrgios could become a regular in the Davis Cup team if he improved his movement around the court.