Nick Kyrgios feels he is primed for a tilt at the Australian Open and says he is a much more relaxed player after a rollercoaster 2015.
The 20-year-old made headlines for all the wrong reasons last year, with a sexual sledge directed at Swiss player Stan Wawrinka the undisputed lowpoint, earning himself a suspended 28-day ban from the ATP tour.
He was also accused of tanking a game against Richard Gasquet and drew the ire of officials with a series of code violations.
But heading into the new season, and with a Hopman Cup win – including a maiden triumph over Andy Murray – under his belt, Kyrgios has belief that he can improve on last year’s effort of making the quarter-finals in Melbourne.
“Obviously last year I had a really good run,” Kyrgios said on Saturday.
“I just remember it being a really rollercoaster couple of weeks.
“When I lost against Andy (Murray), it almost felt like I was exhausted, mentally and physically drained.
“Coming back this year, I feel like I’ve grown, physically made a lot of improvements. I feel as if I’m ready for whatever comes.”
Kyrgios said he feels confident heading into the Open, and has faith his game can mix it with the very best in the world.
“I feel as if I’m more relaxed this year,” said Kyrgios, the 29th seed.
“Coming around, I’ve got a lot more confidence in my game. I feel a lot more comfortable playing in front of the crowd this year.
“I’m definitely playing a lot better.”
Kyrgios retired from his opening match at last week’s Kooyong Classic against David Goffin, but said the foot niggle that caused the retirement is no concern ahead of his Open opener on Monday with Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.
“It was a little bit of a niggle.
“It’s feeling good. I’ve had a lot of treatment on it,” he said.
“David wanted to have some match practice. I thought we could play a set and a little bit. Obviously, I didn’t want to hinder my preparations going into the Australian Open.”
Kyrgios said he is looking forward to feeding off his home crowd, but insisted he won’t be overawed by the pressure that comes with it.
“Yeah, there’s definitely a little bit more expectation,” Kyrgios said.
“In all honesty, it’s just another tournament. If you lose first round, there’s 50, 60 other events you can play in the year, perform, turn that bad week into a good week.”
And Kyrgios is not expecting an easy time of things from his first-round opponent Carreno Busta.
“I played him last year in Portugal and I won in a tight three-set battle,” he said.
“He’s more than capable of producing some really good tennis.
“He’s had a couple really good wins in Kooyong.
“I know he’s going to come out there and compete for every point. He’s a great competitor.
“It’s going to be a very exciting match.”