Nick Kyrgios says he was joking with a since-deleted post on social media that sparked suggestions of a rift with Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt.
The enigmatic Australian raised eyebrows last week with a tweet claiming Hewitt had abandoned him and countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis. He was replying to another poster who had asked him about Hewitts attendance at a match featuring top-ranked Australian Alex de Minaur at the Brisbane International.
The remark was later removed and Kyrgios on Monday insisted he had not been having a shot at the two-time grand slam champion.
“No, it was a bit of a joke,” he said at the launch of the new ATP Cup in Sydney before playing in the Fast4 event at Qudos Bank Arena. “Thats what Twitter is for, a bit of banter.”
If the comment about Hewitt was light-hearted, then he maintains he is taking his Australian Open campaign very seriously.
Kyrgios is unfazed by his unseeded status at Melbourne Park after slipping outside the worlds top 50 following a round-two defeat to Jeremy Chardy of France in Brisbane.
“Seeded or not, I know what it takes to get to the second week of a slam,” he said.
“I know that by the second week you want to try and get in and out as fast as you can. I dont have the luxury of maybe not drawing a seed first round. It is what it is at the moment but Im not thinking about it.”
Kygrios will continue his preparations with an appearance at the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne, where he will take on former Davis Cup teammate Bernard Tomic for the first time.
Last year, having won the title in Brisbane, he began the Australian Open as the world No.14 and reached the fourth round before losing in four close sets to third seed Grigor Dimitrov. He approaches Melbourne this time around in not so lofty a position – he is currently the fourth ranked Australian behind de Minaur (29), John Millman (38) and Matt Ebden (47).
“Im obviously really lucky to have another chance to play an Australian Open,” Kyrgios said. “You dont take these things for granted.
“Im really looking forward to it, this is my favourite time of the year, the Aussie summer, getting in front of the home crowd. I had a good Aussie summer last year. I want to go further.
“Ive played in a lot of grand slams and I know that nothing is guaranteed, so I want to go out there and make the most of it.
“I feel good. Being at home helps. I had Christmas at home and just being with my family helped a lot. Right now mentally I feel good. Ive got a week until the Aus Open starts. Im not going to think about it too much. Im just going to stay laid back … then just go after it.”
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.
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