Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Even as a boy, Nick Kyrgios played tennis like a man.
That was Pat Cash's lasting memory from when he captained the Australian Junior Davis Cup team containing the rising Canberra tennis star back in 2011.
He played like a man at that age. He had very good control and he dominated just about every match he played.Pat Cash
Now the former Daramalan College student will make his Australian Open debut after getting a wildcard into the men's singles main draw and will face German and world number 81 Benjamin Becker in the first round.
Pat Cash. Photo: Ben Rushton
But Cash still remembers what Kyrgios, the former world junior number one, he was like two years ago.
"His ball striking was just much harder than any other kid, much cleaner," he said.
"He hit shots that other kids just didn't have.
"He played like a man at that age.
"He had very good control and he dominated just about every match he played.
"He had his concentration lapses, but that's part of it.
"But in my opinion he was clearly the best player in the tournament and he played some great tennis.
"He played like a man and was in a different league."
Cash burst onto the scene as a youngster, just as Kyrgios is starting to do now.
The renowned serve-volleyer played in his first Aussie Open as a 16-year-old, losing to Mark Edmondson in the opening round.
He went on to eventually become Wimbledon champion and a Davis Cup winner.
It's a path similar to the one Kyrgios is hoping to start down and Cash understands the pressure that comes with being a promising junior.
He felt the governing body hadn't managed upcoming juniors in the past and said the focus on winning was wrong.
Instead the focus should be on simply improving and Cash said the results would then look after themselves.
"Sponsors they expect stuff from you, tennis associations they expect results and it can get tough for a young guy," he said.
"You've got expectations on yourself, I should be higher ranked by now or whatever it happens to be and you can lose perspective on what the bottom line is, and that's just to become a better player.
"...And Tennis Australia hasn't got a good history of this either, they don't look at the bigger picture.
"They look at winning a few titles, being the best junior in the world, but it's not important.
"It's about becoming a better player ... and you will win matches."
Cash has kept in contact with Kyrgios since the Junior Davis Cup.
Kyrgios has a wildcard into the Aussie Open main draw, after overcoming shoulder and elbow problems that ended his 2013 campaign early.
After getting his elbow right, a shoulder injury then forced him to withdraw from the Brisbane International and to miss the following International Sydney.
Because of the interrupted preparation, Cash tempered his expectations for Kyrgios' first Australian Open and said it was simply about him getting valuable experience.
"He's obviously had some injuries ... and with a bit of luck he might win a few matches, but I wouldn't expect too much from him, he hasn't played a lot this summer," Cash said.
"He'll be very keen to play, playing at home in front of his family and supporters he'd love to do well, but I wouldn't expect too much.
"Just take a lot of experience out of it ... get on court with some of the best players in the world.
"I don't think it really fazes him too much, he'll just be excited about getting out there and playing and there's nothing to lose at this stage.
"I think he'll just go for it and fingers crossed he'll play well."