Original tennis brat John McEnroe has backed Nick Kyrgios to “shake things up” at the inaugural Laver Cup in what looms as a partnership between two on-court volcanoes next month.
Kyrgios has been called into Team World by captain McEnroe as an injury replacement for Canadian Milos Raonic.
It sets the stage for a explosive partnership given their fiery personalities and after McEnroe has been vocal in criticising Kyrgios’ rollercoaster rise.
But McEnroe, who has been critical of Kyrgios in the past, believes the Canberra young gun is one of the most talented players on the professional tour after adding him to the squad on the eve of the US Open.
Kyrgios will play against John Millman in an all-Australian battle in the opening round of the US Open on Tuesday morning Australian time.
No. 14 seed Kyrgios will have one eye on a potential fourth-round clash with Roger Federer after finding top form in the build up to the last grand slam of the year.
McEnroe, famous for his on-court temper, teed off on Kyrgios when he withdrew from the US Open last year because of injury, saying: “Nick Kyrgios, if you don’t want to be a professional tennis player, do something else.”
McEnroe had another crack at the Australian Open earlier this year, adding: “It’s OK to show your emotions … but when [Kyrgios] goes through those periods when he’s not competing it’s just a black eye for the sport. And it’s a black eye for him.”
But Kyrgios has shaken the niggling injuries which have plagued him from the past 12 months and is back to his best after making the Cincinnati Masters final last week.
He has also beaten Novak Djokovic twice this year and toppled world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati, giving him a perfect platform to launch his US Open campaign.
Kyrgios, the world No. 18, will join American trio John Isner, Jack Sock and Sam Querrey, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro and Canadian Denis Shapovalov in McEnroe’s team for the Laver Cup in Prague from September 22-24.
“He’s as bold as he is talented and I truly expect him to shake things up,” McEnroe said.
“In Nick, you have an exciting young player who clearly thrives on a big stage and against the world’s best players.”
Kyrgios is a three-time ATP winner and Australia’s No. 1 player. He will be targeting his best US Open bid since making his debut in 2013.
The 22-year-old has also thrived in Davis Cup, winning every rubber he has contested in 2017 to lead Australia into the World Group semi-finals.
“I love to draw on the energy that comes from being a part of a team and I can’t wait for the Laver Cup because I’ll be competing with guys who are also my friends,” Kyrgios said.
“When John McEnroe and I got together and he asked me to be on the team and showed such faith in me, I was delighted to accept.
“Playing for one legend in honour of another is not something we get to do often.
“And, of course, as an Australian, it’s a privilege to compete at an event that honours Rod Laver. We grew up learning that he’s a hugely important part of our history.”
Kyrgios will start his Laver Cup campaign against Marin Cilic at the three-day tournament which pits the best of Europe against Team World.