"He knows that he can play and compete now" - Rod Laver believes Kyrgios is a different player following his Wimbledon final run

Rod Laver hasn't been afraid to criticize Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios in the past - but the two-time calendar Grand Slam champion believes he's seen something different over the last six months.

After years of teasing fans with his immense talent, Kyrgios put it all together this year with a thrilling run to the Wimbledon final, as well as a convincing defeat of world No.1 Daniil Medvedev at the US Open.

The Wimbledon final in particular was a massive breakthrough for Kyrgios, his first grand slam final, and Laver believes it's the first time in the 27-year-old's career that he feels he truly belongs at the elite level.

Laver memorably said in 2019 that Kyrgios 'would never learn' how to find the best of himself on the court amid a tumultuous season punctuated by several controversial run-ins with chair umpires.

While Kyrgios hasn't become any less outspoken since then, Laver believes there is now a level of self-assuredness that he hadn't seen in the Canberra-born star before.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Laver said he believed the improvements Kyrgios had made in terms of his ability to maintain focus was 'the greatest thing that happened to him'.

“Kyrgios has all the ability in the world, every shot that you could wish to make,” Laver said. “He’s probably one of the biggest servers in the game. He’s accurate, he can play under pressure.

“I was thrilled when he reached the final, but he didn’t think he could win Wimbledon. In my mind, I said, ‘Hey, put in your best performance. You may surprise yourself.’

“A month or two later, I said, ‘You can win some of these matches. Why don’t you apply yourself, man?’"

Though Kyrgios missed out on collecting ranking points for Wimbledon after the ATP stripped the tournament of them due to their ban on Russian players, his US Open performance was enough to elevate him to world No.20.

While Laver said he would have liked to see Kyrgios compete at the Laver Cup, he believes the conversation they had after the Wimbledon final had a profound effect on Kyrgios.

“He realized, ‘S***, I am good enough, I can do this,’” Laver said. “That was the greatest thing that happened to him. Unfortunately, he said that he wanted to go back to Australia and not play in the Laver Cup.

“But he knows that he can play and compete now. Don’t walk on the court thinking, ‘If I get three games, that’s enough.’ Now he’s thinking, ‘Next year? Wimbledon? You’re going to see a different player.'"

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