Lleyton Hewitt backing Nick Kyrgios to make deep Aus Open run despite lengthy layoff

Australian tennis great Lleyton Hewitt has backed Nick Kyrgios to make a deep run in this year’s Australian Open, despite his long layoff in 2020.

Kyrgios did not travel overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic and revealed that he had not hit a ball for five months at one stage in a candid interview ahead of the ATP Cup.

The 25-year-old will be in action at this week’s Murray River Open, and Hewitt believes the layoff will only improve Kyrgios’ prospects on the court in 2021.

“I think, as a whole, him having a bit of a break away from the sport – where he’s positioned, for his body and mind – is a good thing,” Hewitt said.

“Because he hasn’t played a match for so long, though, it’s not going to be easy for him just to come out and switch it on, either.

“It’s important for him to get some of those nerves out of the way this week, so come the Australian Open in a bit over a week’s time, he’s ready to go.

“Trying to just switch it on for five-set tennis, when you haven’t played for nearly a year, isn’t going to be easy. (But) he’s hitting the ball well enough to push deep in the Australian Open, for sure.”

Kyrgios starred for Australian during the inaugural ATP Cup last year, but will not feature this year, with Alex de Minaur, John Millman, John Peers and Luke Saville in Hewitt’s Australia team.

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