Australia's ATP Cup team captain Lleyton Hewitt has been keeping a close eye on Nick Kyrgios and likes what he sees.
Kyrgios has been key cog in recent Davis Cup teams and the ATP Cup contingent last year, but missed selection this year due to his ranking drop after electing not to travel through the coronavirus pandemic.
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Australia's singles players in the ATP Cup, starting Tuesday at Melbourne Park, are Alex de Minaur and John Millman.
But Hewitt was on court at Rod Laver Arena during a training session with Kyrgios and compatriot Jordan Thompson.
And Hewitt said the 25-year-old Kyrgios looked sharp.
He felt time away from tennis could be a good thing for the world No.47.
"I think Nick having a bit of a break away from the sport, for his body and mind, is a good thing," Hewitt said on Sunday.
"He looks to be hitting the ball well, clean, and he relies on his serve and is serving big at the moment."
Hewitt predicted that Kyrgios, who made the Open quarter-finals in 2015 and the fourth round twice, could go deeper this time around.
A year ago Kyrgios was beaten in the round of 16 by Rafael Nadal in a tight four-setter.
Kyrgios prime for ATP Cup
Hewitt hoped Kyrgios would be able to get a few matches under his belt in the lead-up ATP men's competitions, which run alongside the ATP nation-based event at Melbourne Park.
Kyrgios plays French world No.208 Alexander Muller in the first round, and may have a tasty second round meeting with Bernard Tomic if both are successful in their openers.
"I think it's important for Nick to get some of those nerves out of the way this week, so come the Australian Open in a bit over a week's time he's ready to go," Hewitt said.
"Because he hasn't played a match for so long, though, it's not going to be easy for him.
"Trying to just switch it on for five-set tennis when you haven't played for nearly a year isn't going to be easy.
"He's hitting the ball well enough to push deep in the Australian Open for sure."
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