‘I’ve had his back since he was an orange boy’: Lleyton Hewitt reveals what it is REALLY like mentoring enigmatic tennis star Nick Kyrgios
- Lleyton Hewitt has relished in his role as a courtside mentor for Nick Kyrgios
- The duo have had a tense relationship in the past but that is ‘behind them’ now
- With Kyrgios in particular, he’s learned ‘you can’t put everyone in the same box’
Lleyton Hewitt has relished in his role as a court-side mentor for Nick Kyrgios this Australian Open.
The former world No.1 said he’s been supporting Kyrgios from the sidelines since he was an up-and-coming teenager.
Kyrgios bowed out of the competition after a fourth-round loss to current No.1, Rafael Nadal this week, with Hewitt by his side.
The duo have had a tense relationship in the past, with 24-year-old Kyrgios once insinuating Hewitt ‘picked favourites’ among the rising stars.
But Hewitt told Herald Sun the past has been firmly left behind.
Nick Kyrgios (right) and Lleyton Hewitt have a mentorship relationship this season
Hewitt has relished in his role as a court-side mentor for Nick Kyrgios this Australian Open
‘Nick and I have always had a really good relationship,’ he said.
‘He didn’t play one Davis Cup tie. Last year he’s had some ups and downs. As a captain, you’ve got to make some stances. But Nick and I have always got along really well.
‘The biggest thing is he’s always known I’ve had his back since he was orange boy at a Davis Cup tie as a 15, 16-year-old.
Hewitt said he enjoys his role as a mentor for younger players since he retired from the sport in 2016, and that the role gives him a chance to work with a range of different players and personalities.
Team Captain of Australia, Lleyton Hewitt, (left), hugs Nick Kyrgios (right) after he won a doubles match in 2020
Nick Kyrgios of Australia speaks at his post match press conference on day eight of the 2020 Australian Open
With Kyrgios in particular, he’s learned ‘you can’t put everyone in the same box.
‘He does everything a little bit differently,’ he said.
Hewitt was front and centre in Kyrgios’ players box during his three matches at the Australian Open in Melbourne this month.
While Hewitt is working in a mentorship role with Kyrgios, the 24-year-old doesn’t have a formal coach.
Some critics have previously suggested he will struggle to reach his full potential without one.
When asked whether he would consider continuing his relationship with Hewitt now that the latest tournament has come to an end, Kyrgios told reporters he’d have to keep in contact ‘now and then’.
Kyrgios bowed out of the competition after a fourth-round loss to current No.1, Rafael Nadal this week, with Hewitt by his side
Hewitt was front and centre in Kyrgios’ players box during his three matches at the Australian Open in Melbourne this month
‘He’s the Davis Cup coach, so I’m going to have to text him every now and then,’ he said.
In early 2019, there were suggestions of a bitter feud between the pair after Kyrgios missed out on a Davis Cup spot.
Hewitt is the captain of the squad, and Kyrgios was later offered a spot on the team.
But he and a fellow Australian tennis star accused Hewitt of favouring young up-and-comer Alex de Minaur.
Krygios shared a poll on Instagram which featured a photo of Hewitt at de Minaur’s match.
The poll read: ‘Who’s (sic) match is he watching, Demon (de Minaur) or no-one else’.
He deleted the post shortly after, and has always denied any hard feelings between he and Hewitt.