Kyrgios can become world's best, claims Laver

By Sacha Pisani 5 January 2017 84
Kyrgios can become world's best, claims Laver

When it comes to tennis greats, they do not come much bigger than Rod Laver and the 11-time grand-slam champion believes Australia's Nick Kyrgios can become the best player in the world.

There is no doubting Kyrgios' quality but the 21-year-old's behaviour and commitment has raised doubts over his ability to take his game to the next level alongside the likes of world number one Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

Kyrgios endured a mixed 2016 season, winning three ATP titles, but his campaign ended in controversial circumstances as he was banned for eight tournament weeks and fined $25,000 for appearing to throw in the towel in a Shanghai Masters loss to Mischa Zverev in October.

As Kyrgios gears up for the year's first grand slam, the Australian Open - which gets underway on January 16 - Laver said the world number 13 has what it takes to reach the summit of men's tennis.

"Ability-wise, he could be the best tennis player in the world," Laver told reporters upon the unveiling of a statue in his honour at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

"And only he is the one that gets in his way. Looking at maybe maturity — he's still only [21 years old]. He's still very young on the world tour.

"I want him to be the best player in the world. We need another great Australian champion."

"He plays some magnificent tennis, but then something gets in the way and he finds himself being challenged by other things, whether it's behaviour or whatever seems to come up," Laver continued.

"If it's competition that isn't going his way, how do you get out of it? It's a learning curve in the game of tennis.

"I didn't throw my racquet heaps [when I played], but disappointment … maybe I took mine inward."

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Sacha Pisani