MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Wayward tennis talent Nick Kyrgios may be a “different character” but Australia’s Davis Cup team is better with him in it, according to captain Lleyton Hewitt.
Hewitt, who omitted Kyrgios from a February tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina for failing “cultural standards”, has ended the 24-year-old’s exile by naming him in the team for next month’s revamped finals in Spain.
Twice Grand Slam champion Hewitt has looked past Kyrgios’s recent behaviour, which has included a major meltdown at a tournament in Cincinnati in August, and subsequently branding the men’s ATP Tour as “pretty corrupt” during the U.S. Open.
Kyrgios earned a suspended six-month ban in September for those transgressions but it only applies to the ATP Tour and not the Davis Cup.
“Nick’s a different character and I understand that and we’re not always going to put everybody in the same box,” Hewitt told reporters on Tuesday.
“You’ve got to deal with different personalities in all kind of sports, and I feel like I know Nick as well as anyone.
“I feel like on the Davis Cup court he’s done everything I’ve needed in the past whenever he’s been a part of the team. He hasn’t put a foot wrong.”
World number 30 Kyrgios, a devastating player when motivated and injury-free, joins Alex de Minaur, John Millman, Jordan Thompson and doubles specialist John Peers on the Australia team for his first Davis Cup appearance in nearly two years.
Australia have been pooled with Belgium and Colombia in Group D for the 18-nation finals in Madrid from Nov. 18-24.
Hewitt said he and Kyrgios had mended fences in March at Indian Wells and were in regular contact.
“I got a message (from him) saying ‘mate, I want to get back in the team’,” added the 38-year-old.
“The great thing is, he has a great relationship with all the players as well.
“It’s kind of about him wanting to be a part of the team and do the right things day in day out.
“For me, I’d much rather have him on my team.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by David Holmes)