Nick Kyrgios might be heading into this year’s US Open as Australia’s hope to take out a major title since Sam Stosur’s triumph in 2011, but tennis legend Chris Evert believes Australia might have to wait a little longer before that hope is realised.
The Canberra local will be seeded 30th in the men’s draw after what has been a troublesome year for the former world number 13, who has been hampered by a series of injury setbacks.
His low seed means that should he win his first two matches, the two-time grand slam quarter-finalist would likely run into the second seed and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the third round.
However, 18-time grand slam champion Chris Evert said she is unsure if Kyrgios has the drive to become one of the best players in the world and believes he is not mentally and emotionally at the elite level.
“To be the best to win Grand Slams, you have to make mental and emotional sacrifices, as well as physical,” Evert said ahead of the US Open.
“I think he doesn’t train like the top men do, and I don’t think mentally and emotionally he’s at that level of the top players but he has gotten by with not having to work that hard at any of those components.
“He doesn’t have that champion hunger yet.”
The 23-year-old has baffled Australian fans during his five years on the circuit, showing his incredible potential by beating Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal but at times displaying a disinterested attitude instead of ruthlessly dispatching his opponents.
He has lost in the first round of the US Open twice in the past three years and another early defeat next week could see him exit the world’s top 30 for the first time since February 2016.
Many tennis greats have tipped Kyrgios to be a future star of the sport and despite her concerns, Evert believes the enigmatic Canberran has a level of talent never seen before.
“He’s a complicated guy and I wonder if he just doesn’t want to give up a lot. It’s frustrating to watch him,” she said. “He brings talent to another level that we’ve never seen I don’t think, in the tennis world.
“But you can’t change DNA. You can’t change the wiring of somebody. This change has got to come within himself.
“He’s going to coast as long as he wants, as long as he can, but at some point, I think we all who are fans of his and love his tennis are probably wanting this more than he is right now.
“Will he ever get it? Will somebody get it out of him? Or will he get it out of himself? That is the thousand-dollar question.”
The US Open main-draw action starts on Monday (Tuesday AEST).