Sport Tennis Boys to men: Kyrgios, Tomic to atone for sins
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Boys to men: Kyrgios, Tomic to atone for sins

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Both Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic came under heavy fire in 2015.

In each case it was justified.

Kyrgios became tennis’ problem child, the biggest brat the game had seen since John McEnroe.

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His on-court sledge directed at Stan Wawrinka, criticising Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter in a tweet, and a series of code violations saw him cast into the role of the sport’s arch-villain.

Kyrgios looks all business so far in 2016. Photo: Getty
Kyrgios looks all business so far in 2016. Photo: Getty

Similarly, Tomic was embroiled in a spat with Rafter over Davis Cup, and he and his famously combative father John blasted Tennis Australia for refusing to bankroll Bernard and his daughter Sara’s careers.

But fast forward to 2016 and things have a decidedly different feel.

Are these tennis bad boys finally growing into respectable young men? Or is it just that Australians will forgive plenty when you’re winning?

Tomic played great tennis in Brisbane last week, beating Kei Nishikori on his way to a semi-final loss to Milos Raonic.

Kyrgios, meanwhile, took his first win over Andy Murray in the Hopman Cup, before leading Australia to its first victory in the tournament for 17 years.

Ok, its early days – but the indicators are positive that both men are switched on and ready for a 2016 that yields headlines for the right reasons.

Kyrgios, 20, said he is feeling great heading into the season.

A far cry from last year, when he declared he didn’t like tennis and would rather play basketball, Kyrgios celebrated his Hopman Cup win with more practice – perhaps hinting at a more disciplined approach in 2016.

“I’m actually going to go out on centre court now and hit some more balls. That’s my celebration,” Kyrgios said.

“It’s my job. It’s my life.

“I mean my game can always get better. There’s always things I need to improve on.

Tomic is ranked 18 in the world, the highest he has ever been. Photo: Getty
Tomic is ranked 18 in the world, the highest he has ever been. Photo: Getty

“You can never be too ready, I feel, for a grand slam.”

And Kyrgios won’t be content unless he goes deep at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

“I’m nervous, I’m excited,” he said.

“I feel like I play my best tennis on big stages.

“If I’m serving well and playing the right game style, I think I’ve got a good chance.”

Tomic is also confident of firing in the year’s first grand slam – which he’ll head into as a top-16 seed.

“For me, this is a huge opportunity now being seeded with my position,” the 23-year-old said.

“This is probably the best I’ve been feeling on court physically, and very confident every point I play.

“I played so well in the past in the Australian Open and managed to always make the fourth, third round.

“This is a tough, tough level.

“You have to get to that and work hard. It’s not going to come today, tomorrow. It takes years.

“If you keep doing the right thing every day, I’ve learned, you have a big chance of getting closer to achieving your goal.”

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