Australia hope Kyrgios has turned corner after Japan win

Sun Oct 9, 2016 11:30pm EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Melbourne's notoriously changeable weather threatened to wash out the soft launch of the Australian Open on Monday but the rain was unable to dampen the cheer among tournament organizers enthused by Nick Kyrgios's weekend victory in Japan.

The tempestuous 21-year-old, Australia's brightest hope of a men's grand slam champion since twice winner Lleyton Hewitt, clinched the Japan Open on Sunday with an impressive win over rising Belgian David Goffin.

For a player who professes no love for tennis and has admitted to being "a little bit soft", Kyrgios has won all three of his titles this season, his latest in Tokyo the biggest of a still fledgling career.

Kyrgios clobbered 25 aces past Goffin but a more telling statistic might have been the zero tantrums committed by the hot-headed Australian during the tense three-setter.

The prospect of a fit, in-form and happy Kyrgios making a deep run at the Australian Open would be a dream outcome for the tournament's organizers but not one they were willing to indulge out loud on Monday, lest the wish not come true.

"It's a long journey; it's a long-term journey when it comes to Nick," a wary Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said after being soaked by a spring shower at the tournament's launch near Melbourne Park.

"But he's certainly, we've felt, more recently turned the corner.

"But his performances this past week has been tremendous in winning his third professional title.   Continued...

Tennis - Japan Open men's Singles Final Match - Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo, Japan - 09/10/16. Nick Kyrgios of Australia poses with his victory trophy. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon