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Wally Masur: Why dropping Nick Kyrgios from Davis Cup was best thing to happen to him

Wally Masur believes dumping Nick Kyrgios from last year's Davis Cup semi-final has reinvigorated the 20-year-old's passion for the sport and has him on track to be a major contender in grand slams this year.

The heart to heart with the then Davis Cup captain at last year's US Open convinced the much-maligned Kyrgios he needed a break from the sport after the spotlight began to take its toll.

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The sacrifice was monumental, but the after-effects of a season riddled with controversy and heartache left the talented 20-year-old with some soul searching to do as the show went on without him in Glasgow.

While he could do little but watch on as his friends perished at the hands of Great Britain and the Murray brothers, the light at the end of the tunnel is now beaming through at Melbourne Park as Kyrgios prepares for his Australian Open assault with a spring in his step.

The expectation that had so visibly weighed him down just 12 months earlier now no longer seems to burden last year's quarter-finalist.

"To be honest Nick had such a year that when we sat down after the US Open, I could see that he was exhausted from everything that occurred, as well as the tennis he'd been playing," Masur said.

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"I think the big thing for Nick is the spotlight he was in. He had such a rapid rise since he beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon the year before. His world had changed. There were a few controversies that took its toll. We just sat down together and realised what he probably needed was to get home, have some time away from the game.

"The guy had had an amazing year. Everything that had gone on both on and off the court, it was a pretty tumultuous year for him. It was very much a mutual decision. I think it proved to be the right thing. If you look at him now, he's had that time to recharge, play a few tournaments at the end of the year. He's had a good start to the preseason so hopefully he can get the result he wants at the Australian Open."

Holding on tight: Daria Gavrilova and Nick Kyrgios with the Hopman Cup.

Holding on tight: Daria Gavrilova and Nick Kyrgios with the Hopman Cup.

Despite withdrawing from the Kooyong Classic with a foot injury on Wednesday, Kyrgios comes into the opening grand slam of the season in ominous touch after a successful Hopman Cup campaign that included his first victory against world No.2 Andy Murray.

There's a notable difference in his presence on court, playing with more composure and assurance despite his every move now examined and scrutinised given his turbulent history.

"I can see a difference. I'm always impressed with his tennis, his tennis is unbelievable," Masur said. "But just the little things, like the speech he made after the Hopman Cup. He just looked relaxed and happy, and that's important with Nick.

"Nick is actually a really good tactical tennis player as well. I think now he has a really good understanding of what he needs to do to threaten in the majors."

Kyrgios split with former coach Todd Larkham on the eve of Wimbledon last year and, despite working closely with mentor Lleyton Hewitt and agent John Morris, is yet to appoint a new coach.

While some players would struggle without a guiding hand, Masur believes Kyrgios has flourished under the pressure of his own criticism, adamant his decision to self-coach has been instrumental in his development.

"It's been interesting because he hasn't had a coach for six to eight months now but that has turned out to be not a bad decision," Masur said.

"I'm sure at some point he will appoint a coach and he will have a mentor. But at the moment he's taken charge of his own career and that's the best thing for him at the moment. Just his personality and where he's at.

"He's in a transition period, he's on his way from being a very good bright young prospect into what I believe is the transition into that top player. The future is huge for Nick. Top 10 yes, but where he goes from there could be awesome."

Mentor: Wally Masur with Nick Kyrgios.

Mentor: Wally Masur with Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Getty Images

While some of the criticism of Kyrgios has been justified given the backlash from the "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend" sledge of Stan Wawrinka as well as his run-in with umpires at Wimbledon, he still is on the receiving end of some unfair treatment from portions of the public.

Masur sympathised with Kyrgios and those players who struggle to deal with the pressure of growing up in the public eye in a world dominated by social media.

"I feel sorry for tennis players. I guess the world has changed with social media," Masur said.

"When these kids play now, even at a younger age, there's so many eyes on them. It was very different in my day. You just played and got on the tour and learnt how to be a professional. You grew as a person, your character developed and you developed as a player and went on that journey.

"It's different now because that spotlight is on them and I think sometimes kids feel pressure. There's too many eyes on them. Not just match day, but all the time. I think player agents and coaches need to be aware that these kids need some down time."

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