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Like for like: why John McEnroe chose Nick Kyrgios for Laver Cup 2018

Nick Kyrgios was announced as the first of captain John McEnroe's Team World picks for Laver Cup 2018. Photo: Getty Images

First in for Team World 2018 is Australian Nick Kyrgios, who was announced by captain John McEnroe during the Laver Cup launch in Chicago on March 19.

Bonds strengthened with friends and teammates, his place alongside the world’s elite reinforced; Nick Kyrgios could take many things from his starring role at the inaugural Laver Cup.

But there was nothing stronger than the chemistry he established with Team World captain John McEnroe. As fans soaked up the fascinating dynamic of their spirited coach-player exchanges, Kyrgios clearly flourished under the guidance of the American former world No.1.

“We just had a lot of fun out on the bench. We were getting along well, and it was really good to have him out there,” said Kyrgios.

“I asked him, ‘Why did you play? He said, ‘you know, it’s the same reason you play. It’s because we are better at it than everything else that we do,” related Kyrgios.

“I think we can relate on many things. He’s been a great help for me. I think he actually understands me, gets where I’m coming from on most things.”

Passion Play

McEnroe and Kyrgios are charismatic individuals who thrive in a team setting. In Prague, Kyrgios partnered with Jack Sock to gain Team World’s first point in doubles and beat home favorite Tomas Berdych, before almost pulling off a critical upset of Roger Federer in the last match.

Kyrgios played a key role in his team’s boisterous celebrations – adding extra entertainment for spectators and sparking spirited camaraderie within the group. The strength of the belief Kyrgios had inspired in his captain was highlighted when McEnroe declared the 22-year-old as the first member of Team World at Laver Cup Chicago in 2018 during the event’s launch on March 19.

“It’s no secret Nick is one of the most talented young players on the tour,” said McEnroe during the March 19 launch in Chicago.

“He’s also one of the most passionate. He wears his heart on his sleeve and I couldn’t have asked more of him at Laver Cup last year in Prague. He gave it his absolute all, on the court and supporting the team. He’s the ultimate team player and I want him in my corner.”

Kyrgios – the first of McEnroe’s two captain’s picks regardless of how the rankings unfold before the September event – was delighted to confirm his return for Team World.“It was amazing for me. To be a part of that, something special for me was probably the funnest week of my career so far, better than the Grand Slams,” he said.

Team World captain John McEnroe announces his first pick for Laver Cup 2018 in Chicago: Australian Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Ben Solomon
Team World captain John McEnroe announces his first pick for Laver Cup 2018 in Chicago: Australian Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Ben Solomon

The Show Goes On

The Kyrgios Show is likely to be even more spectacular a second time around.

Since competing in Prague, Kyrgios has developed further as a player. He finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in Beijing in October and defeated defending Brisbane champion, Grigor Dimitrov as he kicked off 2018 with a fourth career title.

Upsetting higher-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en-route to the fourth round of the recent Australian Open, Kyrgios spoke of his renewed purpose in the new year.  

“I didn’t really know what I was going to do after the Australian Open last year,” he admitted. “I feel like I’ve got more vision and more of a goal for this year and I feel like I’m in a good head space.”

His focus on court is helped by an important focus off court: Kyrgios recently launched the NK Foundation with an objective to help underprivileged and disadvantaged youth.“For the first time, I feel like there is a reason for me to be doing what I’m doing,” wrote Kyrgios in the Players Voice.

“Tennis is a great life – we’re well paid and the perks are pretty good – but it can feel empty if you’re just doing it for the money.”

Adding Inspiration

Bold yet respectful, Kyrgios has embraced the opportunity to once again honor countryman Rod Laver at the Laver Cup. “Obviously I’m good friends (with) Rocket,” he beamed in Chicago. “We are from Down Under. Just to see him have an event for him, it’s pretty special, as well.”

Also special is the chance to compete as part of a team. “Obviously (I’m) very good friends with all the guys on Team World,” he said of the 2017 lineup.  “There was a bit of an age difference. We had John Isner to Denis Shapovalov, who is one of the youngest guys coming through.”

Then there is his enthralling affinity with the man Kyrgios affectionately calls ‘Johnny Mac’. Individually, they’re two of the biggest personalities in tennis. Combined, their strong personal qualities are only magnified. Under McEnroe’s guidance, Kyrgios couldn’t be more excited as he anticipates the second staging of Laver Cup.

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