Nick Kyrgios has installed Lleyton Hewitt as his interim coach as he looks to bounce back from a controversial couple of months, with his mother promising “he will listen to Lleyton”.
Kyrgios split with former coach Todd Larkham in the lead-up to Wimbledon, where the former came under fire for his attitude in his loss to Richard Gasquet.
But his mother Nill is convinced Kyrgios can rediscover his best form with Hewitt in his corner, with the 34-year-old set to mentor his Davis Cup team-mate, starting at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
“He will listen to Lleyton because he knows what he’s talking about, he’s been at the top and been world number one,” Nill told the Canberra Times.
“Definitely [Hewitt will be there] for Montreal and Cincinnati [for the Western and Southern Open] and depending on whether he [Hewitt] plays the US Open or not, he’ll be there anyway.”
Following his Wimbledon exit, where he was accused of tanking, Kyrgios endured a wave of criticism in the Australian media, with former Olympic swimmer Dawn Fraser getting into hot water for claiming the 20-year-old prodigy should “go back to where [his] parents came from”.
That was followed by a dreadful performance in the Davis Cup quarter-finals, where Kyrgios – who is ranked 40th – was defeated 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 by world number 95 Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
After both Kyrgios and fellow youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis had lost the opening singles rubbers in Darwin, Hewitt and Sam Groth took over in the doubles and reverse singles to defeat Kazakhstan 3-2 and send Australia to the semi-finals.
Kyrgios has endured a love-hate relationship with the Australian public and media since he broke onto the ATP World Tour in 2013, and his mother believes Hewitt’s own experiences as a precocious but divisive youngster will help.
“What Nick doesn’t like is when people who haven’t been in that situation give him advice, but he’ll listen to someone like Lleyton,” she said.
“Lleyton’s been through everything that Nick is going through. We touched base on it after Davis Cup because we knew Nick wasn’t in a good head space, he just wasn’t dealing well with the negative feedback.”
Kyrgios will start his Rogers Cup campaign on Tuesday against Fernando Verdasco for a chance to play third seed Stan Wawrinka in the second round.
Hewitt and Kyrgios will also play doubles together in Montreal.