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Tiley wants a happy Kyrgios at home Open

Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios is the top local hope at next month's Australian Open.

Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios is the top local hope at next month's Australian Open. Photo: AAP

Craig Tiley wants a happy Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open, forecasting that will be a factor in whether he repeats Ash Barty’s home-country success.

At the 2022 event, Barty became the first Australian woman since 1978 to claim the title, before announcing her surprise retirement from the sport just months later.

With Barty not playing, Kyrgios heads into next month’s Open as the big local hope.

But Kyrgios is a man of potent moods and Tiley, the tournament director, said how the volatile right-hander handled the local pressure would be crucial.

“Playing at home in front of your home crowd and expected to win – that’s why I think one of the greatest wins we’ve seen here at Melbourne Park was Ash Barty,” Tiley said.

“It’s a very difficult thing to do … only they (players) can talk about it, but responding to the pressure is not that straightforward.

“We would love to see Nick do well. For us, it’s just day-by-day and him staying healthy, enjoying the competition.

“I believe if Nick comes out and has some fun while he’s doing it, and has an opportunity to play his best tennis, that would be great.”

Kyrgios made the Wimbledon final this year and his world ranking shot up from 137 in February to 22.

Djokovic beats Kyrgios in Wimbledon final

He also partnered compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis to win the Australian Open doubles title.

“Reaching the Wimbledon final is a pretty significant achievement – having the year that he had is a significant achievement,” Tiley said.

No Australian has won the men’s title since Mark Edmondson in 1976 and Kyrgios’ opposition will include defending champion Rafa Nadal.

Novak Djokovic, the nine-time Australian Open champion, will be back after he controversially was expelled from the country in January because of COVID-19 rules.

Tiley said the Serbian landed in Adelaide on Monday to finalise his preparations for the Open.

Djokovic’s visa issues were a hot topic during the year, but Tiley is hopeful he will have a warm reception from Australian fans.

He noted Djokovic is on a mission to join Nadal on 22 grand slam titles – he is one behind the Spaniard – and eventually prove himself as the greatest men’s player in history.

“I have a great deal of confidence in the Australian public – we’re a very well-educated sporting public, particularly those who come to the tennis,” he said.

“They love seeing greatness … I have a lot of confidence that the fans will react like we hope they would react and have respect for that.”

Tiley said there had been a “pent-up” demand for tickets after two years of the pandemic.

The tournament is aiming to top 2020, its best year, with Tiley hoping about 900,000 fans will attend.

As the temperature ramped up into the mid-30s on Tuesday, Tiley said the long-range forecast for next month was “good”.

“Contingent on good weather, we are expecting a record-breaking 2023,” he said.

“There are a few things we cannot control – we cannot control changing health conditions, we cannot control changing weather conditions.

“The long-range forecast has been really good for January – but again, it’s the weather, it’s Melbourne.”

The Australian Open begins on January 16. See more details here.

-AAP

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