Nick Kyrgios in action during his round one win at Wimbledon. Photo: Getty Images
Former Australia Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald believes Canberra's Nick Kyrgios has the game to give Wimbledon ''a real shake'' in the next few years and is capable a second-round boilover against French star Richard Gasquet on Thursday night.
Currently ranked 14 in the world and with a career prize purse of more than $10million, Gasquet predicted a rich top-10 future for Kyrgios despite outclassing the 19-year-old on clay in their Davis Cup duel in February.
But Fitzgerald backed Kyrgios to bridge the gap against Gasquet on grass, even claiming for the former world No.1 junior could be a genuine contender in "the next year or two".
"At 19 it may be too early for him to give this tournament a shake,'' Fitzgerald said of Kyrgios, ranked 143.
"But who knows, if he beats Gasquet he'll have a lot of confidence and the dangerous game to go with it. In the next year or two, you'd love to think a guy like Nick could really shake this tournament. What we really want is someone like Nick [to emerge] and I'd love it to be him because I'm a fan of the lad, he's a beauty."
Fitzgerald said the difference between playing Gasquet on grass compared to clay is ''night and day'', and it gives the big-hitting teenager the chance of an upset.
Kyrgios has now enjoyed grand slam wins on three different surfaces - the French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon - but is yet to progress past the second round.
But Fitzgerald said his booming serve and forehand, which came to the fore in first-round win over erratic French veteran Stephane Robert, would suit grass.
"I didn't see much of the Davis Cup match [against Gasquet on clay], but this is a different ball game because of the surface,'' Fitzgerald said.
"That doesn't mean he's going to beat Gasquet, but it's better conditions for him and I think it's a winnable match. I have a lot of confidence he can really give Gasquet a shake. I'd love to think he could beat him.''
Kyrgios also feels he will match up much better against Gasquet, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2007.
‘‘He’s been top 10 in the world and he can play on any surface, so it’s tough,’’ Kyrgios said.
‘‘I know what to expect and I think with my game on grass, it will suit me more. If I serve well and play aggressive, it’ll be pretty competitive.’’
Fitzgerald said Kyrgios would take confidence from Gasquet being pushed to five sets by unheralded Australian James Duckworth in the first round.
"There's no reason he shouldn't go out there thinking he can win,'' Fitzgerald said.
"He doesn't have to think he's favourite, which is sometimes an advantage, he can go out there swinging. He's got a dangerous type of game and that's what you want against the better players. Absolutely he'll have Gasquet's attention on that surface.''
Fitzgerald was commentating courtside in January when Kyrgios came of age in an epic five-set Australian Open loss to another Frenchman, Benoit Paire.
Kyrgios threatened a boilover before late cramping crippled his hopes.
"I tell you it brought a smile to my face, some of the stuff he did,'' Fitzgerald said.
"You get miles in your legs over many years, and also what makes you cramp sometimes is nerves. It takes a few years to get used to that and five-set grass tennis is a tough enough physical test, but not as tough as clay. He will get more free points on this surface and they'll be a lot shorter, that suits Nick at this stage of his career.
"In my opinion Davis Cup's the toughest stage. It's unique and it's pressurised. Having already played in that situation, he'll be better for this match.''