Australia's Nick Kyrgios in The Spotlight at Kooyong Classic
Nick Kyrgios, who had frequent brushes with officialdom last season, is the top drawcard in an expanded 12-man field at Kooyong Club in Melbourne, former home of the Australian Open and venue for an upcoming first-round Davis Cup tie against the United States in March.
The pre-Australian Open spotlight will be fixed firmly on volatile Nick Kyrgios with the exuberant young Aussie heading the field at the Kooyong Classic starting on Tuesday. (Nick Kyrgios Out: Ten Reasons Why US Open 2015 May Not be Fun Anymore. Thank God?)
Days after leading Australia to only their second title at the Hopman Cup mixed-teams event in Perth, the 20-year-old has become a hot topic in the Grand Slam run-up due to his heroics on court - and his new-look good behaviour. (Nick Kyrgios Leads Australia to Hopman Title)
Kyrgios, who had frequent brushes with officialdom last season, is the top drawcard in an expanded 12-man field at Kooyong Club in Melbourne, former home of the Australian Open and venue for an upcoming first-round Davis Cup tie against the United States in March. (Aussie Bad Boy Nick Kyrgios Fined Over Shanghai Outburst)
The talented youngster is coming off a contentious 2015, including an infamous on-court spat with Stanislas Wawrinka which sparked stinging criticism from fellow players.
It led to the ATP handing him a 28-day suspended sentence that remains in effect until late February. It will be imposed if he gets in trouble on court again, something he managed to avoid in Perth.
The powerful Kyrgios, who won all four of his singles rubbers at the Hopman Cup and helped teammate Daria Gavrilova to the first Australian victory in the event for 16 years, will take to the court on Wednesday when he faces Belgian David Goffin.
"My game can always get better. There's always things I need to improve on. You can never be too ready, I feel, for a Grand Slam," world number 30 Kyrgios said as he prepared for the business end of the Australian tennis summer.
"I'm nervous, I'm excited. I don't really know how much or how little to do. I'm just going to get out there and practise a bit more.
"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."
Tuesday's opening programme will feature half of the field on court with the remainder to play on Wednesday. As in the past, winners progress while losers complete relegation play.