With relationship mended, Stan Wawrinka names Nick Kyrgios among top picks for future

Australian bad boy Kyrgios got into trouble with Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters when he made some unsavoury comments about the Swiss’ girlfriend, which were picked up by a courtside microphone, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

“I think [Nick] Kyrgios is really strong,” said Stan Wawrinka when asked which of the youngsters has impressed him the most. “But I like the way [Alexander] Zverev is playing his game." (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
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DUBAI // They are not the best of friends and might never be, but Stan Wawrinka has named Nick Kyrgios as one of his top picks for the future along with German teenager Alexander Zverev.

Australian bad boy Kyrgios, who will be opening his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships campaign against Rotterdam champion Martin Klizan on Wednesday, got into trouble with both the tennis authorities and Wawrinka last August at the Montreal Masters when he made some unsavoury comments about the Swiss' girlfriend, which were picked up by a courtside microphone.

The two stars reportedly had to be separated later in the locker room following an angry confrontation, but playing together on the same team, the Singapore Slammers, in the Indian Premier Tennis League has allowed the pair to mend their relationship.

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Kyrgios has also been on his best behaviour this year and looking a lot more focused on the tennis courts, and the change in attitude helped him clinch his first ATP World Tour title last week without dropping a set. The 20-year-old Australian defeated two top 10 players, Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych, on his way to the Marseille final and then beat the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic for the title.

“I think Kyrgios is really strong,” said Wawrinka when asked which of the youngsters has impressed him the most. “But I like the way Zverev is playing his game. I think he really has the game to improve and to be at the top.

“He has a good team around him. He is already really strong. He is already focused on playing well. So I am sure I cannot give him any advice. So far, he is doing amazing in his career.”

Austria’s Dominic Thiem is another youngster who is doing really well this year. Having started 2016 with a semi-final in Brisbane, he cruised to the Argentina Open title earlier this month, defeating Rafael Nadal on clay in the semis. Last week, the 22-year-old reached the semis in Rio and he has now climbed to No 15 in the rankings.

“These youngsters are playing really well,” said Wawrinka, who predicted an exciting year ahead with all these youngsters coming into the frame. “They are already winning titles and making finals. We have a group of young players that are already strong.

“Thiem is No 15 in the world. So it’s going to be interesting to see how the year is going to be. For sure, there are going to be some new players in the top 30 then we need to see how far they can reach.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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