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Nick Kyrgios' training regime has him primed for Grand Slam glory

Mention Nick Kyrgios and for most people the flash haircuts, lairy personality, the bling, big money endorsements and on court showmanship come to mind. 

But it's the hard work behind the scenes which his trainer Matt James believes has him ready to brush off the injury niggles which have stuttered his progress and go deep into the Australian Open. 

A scare went through the Kyrgios camp when he withdrew from the Kooyong Classic with a foot injury on Wednesday, but it was only a precautionary measure with the first major of the year looming. 

Despite the minor setback, James is convinced his revamped regime will ensure his body is battle ready for the rigours of five-set Grand Slam tennis. 

From dragging and flipping tyres to sled walks, battle ropes and standing toe-to-toe with retiring great Lleyton Hewitt in the boxing ring, Kyrgios has taken a novel approach to beat his growing pains. 

Kyrgios is in the best shape of his life, and several experts have noted a big improvement in his movement and defensive skills. 


The 20-year-old missed last year's Hopman Cup and Sydney International through injury, but still managed to make the quarter finals at Melbourne Park. 

An arm injury ended his 2015 season early in October, one of a handful of overuse injuries which have stuttered the early stages of his career as his young body adapts to the tour grind. 

An altered training regime has helped him stay on court and his first career victory over Andy Murray in Perth has been the highlight of a strong preparation. 

"We're doing tyre drags, sled walks, battle ropes, just stuff which most tennis players haven't done in the past," James said. 

"We're building tolerance in his body. If a players gets three hours into a match you're body needs to tolerate lactic acid and we're training under fatigue. 

"We changed a lot of the exercises he was doing before I took over [in late 2014], we thought he needed a new approach. 

"Nick's reduced his off-court running, doing more specific stuff like speed work, sprint repeat efforts and core work has been a big part of it. 

"Deep into a long tennis match if you're core's not there, you're going to start loading up in places you shouldn't. 

"Our biggest goal is to keep him on court and if we can do that the results are going to come.

"He's built a lot of confidence knowing he can stay on court. Last year he was on and off court, but this year he's beaten some of the biggest names and staying out there, which is what we're looking for."

Kyrgios has always boasted a multitude of attacking weapons, but the progress he's made with his agility has caught the eye of his unofficial mentor Lleyton Hewitt. 

"I was impressed with his movement, and the way he was able to turn defence into offence [against Murray]," Hewitt said last week. 

"And that's not an easy thing against a quality player like Andy."

Australian coach Darren Cahill, who oversees women's world no.2 Simona Halep has also noted his body is more ready to handle the rigours of Grand Slam tennis. 

"Nick looking much fitter than 12 months ago where he struggled with injury," he tweeted during the Murray win. 

James travelled with the world No.30 all year while his new Canberra-based physio Will Maher accompanied him to grand slams. 

James, a former Canberra Raiders junior, said it had given him an up-close insight into the gruelling side of professional tennis the public doesn't see. 

"People see all the glamour, the money they're paid and stuff like that, but they don't see the time spent in airports, flying every week and you can see how it has a toll on the players." he said. 

"I struggled a bit with it as well and I wasn't competing at the top level. I really got a feel for what the guys go through and it changed my perception a bit."

Kyrgios and James stayed with Hewitt at his $4 million Bahamas mansion in the lead-up to last year's US Open. 

A paid holiday? Hardly. 

"It was a pretty surreal feeling, being at his house and being welcomed, seeing how he trains behind doors," James said. 

"It was pretty awesome but it was also very tough training. The humidity there, it was great prep for the Open. 

"The good thing about Lleyton is he's played everyone Nick's playing, and can give some good advice."

James doesn't believe the fact Kyrgios has been without a full-time coach since his split with Todd Larkham just before Wimbledon last year will be a hindrance at Melbourne Park. 

Hewitt's input has been crucial in filling the void. 

"He knows the stuff he needs to improve on and as long as we're working on that throughout the year, I feel we've been fine without one [coach]," James said. 

"The times Rusty [Hewitt] has helped out it's been terrific having a former world No.1 there, you're always going to take in what they say. 

"We've identified the weaknesses in his body and addressing the right things, making sure he's doing the right stuff. 

"We've come up with the best program we feel will keep him on court and moving forward."