Kyrgios can become a role model like Agassi - Woodbridge

By Sacha Pisani 18 October 2016
Kyrgios can become a role model like Agassi - Woodbridge

Back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons but 16-time doubles grand-slam champion Todd Woodbridge has backed suspended star Nick Kyrgios to follow in the footsteps of once-troubled youngster and former world number one Andre Agassi.

World number 14 Kyrgios is facing a suspension of eight tournament weeks, an ATP ban that can be reduced to three should he enter a plan of care under a sports psychologist, following his antics at the Shanghai Masters last week.

The maligned 21-year-old Australian appeared to throw in the towel during a defeat to qualifier Mischa Zverev, an incident deemed to be a 'major offence which was conduct contrary to the integrity of the game'.

It added to the growing list of controversies overshadowing the two-time grand-slam quarter-finalist's short career to date on the professional circuit, having previously clashed with umpires, players, fans and even the media.

But Woodbridge believes Kyrgios - coming off his most successful ATP Tour season with three titles - can return to the tennis arena better and stronger, potentially maturing into a role model like eight-time major winner Agassi.

"It comes down to dealing with the expectations of the tour, what the media expects of you, what the fans expect of you and also what he expects of himself and how he manages that," Woodbridge told Australian radio station SEN 1116 on Tuesday. 

"If he puts all that together – it's a pretty big basket, mind you - he can improve for next year.

"If you give him some time and he starts to get some performances he can do some really good things that'll be great to watch.

"He can ultimately become a role model potentially like an Agassi. Agassi had his troubles in his career ... but he didn't get past them until he was closer to 30, not closer to 20."


Another year in the books. #badyeartho #wasteoftalent

A photo posted by Nicholas Kyrgios (@k1ngkyrg1os) on

Woodbridge added: "I think it's probably good to put the racquets up and go do some work on what they've put forward to him. So they've given him a bit of a lifeline, really, but it's an essential lifeline that I think is important for Nick to improve.

"He's got this part of his game that he has to learn how to deal with. It's not just his game, mind you, it's about his health as well so that the stresses that he puts on himself can allow him to just be a happy, young lad."

"He'll be back for Hopman Cup, he'll be back for Australian Open — back fresh we hope to be able play some really good tennis," Woodbridge continued.

"This year has actually been a huge improvement for Nick. He won three tour titles, he's knocking on the door of the top 10, everything apart from what went on this last week has been a pretty positive and improved Nick Kyrgios."

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Sacha Pisani