Hewitt hails classy and focused Kyrgios

Darren Walton
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Ten Cup Aust

Nick Kyrgios was all class in beating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup in Brisbane

Lleyton Hewitt believes the six-month suspended ban hanging over Nick Kyrgios's head may prove a major turning point in the career of tennis's most combustible talent.

In a welcome sight for frustrated fans of the 24-year-old, Kyrgios was a model of concentration and focus during his pulsating ATP Cup win over world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday night.

His unusually composed 7-6 (9-7) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) victory vaulted the undefeated Australians into a quarter-final showdown on Thursday with Great Britain in Sydney.

On a personal level, Kyrgios's cool-headed display - after a 2019 season marred by on-court controversies, fines and two ATP investigations into his conduct - left Hewitt hugely impressed.

Placed on a 16-week suspended ban in September for calling an Irish umpire a "potato" and a "f***ing tool" in Cincinnati and then accusing the ATP of being corrupt, an allegation he subsequently revoked and apologised for, Kyrgios said he was trying to behave because "I'm on probation".

Hewitt on Wednesday said the threat of a long suspension could possibly be the making of the sport's most unfulfilled talent.

"For him, there is a line and sometimes he crosses it and he knows that and certainly I think it could help him develop," the Australian captain said.

"Whether it's going to help straight away, or maybe in six, 12 months, that's another thing.

"But so far he hasn't put a foot wrong. He's been great behind me on the bench as well, firing the boys up.

"It's been entertaining for everyone else. It's been a lot of fun."

The suspended ban won't apply during the Australian Open, which is controlled by the International Tennis Federation and not the ATP, which is probably a good thing because Hewitt isn't expecting Kyrgios to transform overnight.

"It could certainly help with the rollercoaster that he sometimes does have in a match," Hewitt said of a player he has repeatedly hailed as the ultimate team man.

"He was great as soon as we got together in Brisbane before the event started. He was in a positive frame of mind.

"I think he was still building up to the pre-season, probably didn't have the toughest pre-season with the collarbone (injury) in Davis Cup (in November).

"So he's kind of been managing that and that's why he didn't play the second match as well. He had a bit of a niggle after the first match."

With Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur returning after being rested against Greece, Kyrgios will face British No.2 Cameron Norris in Thursday's second singles match.

De Minaur will play British No.1 Dan Evans.

John Peers and Chris Guccione will take on Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury in the potentially decisive doubles, with victory over the Brits setting up a likely semi-final against Rafael Nadal's Spanish Davis Cup champions on Saturday night.