Kyrgios on coach John McEnroe: ‘I think he actually understands me’

by: Kamakshi Tandon | September 25, 2017

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Team World captain John McEnroe and Nick Kyrgios saw what a coach-player relationship could be like at the Laver Cup. (AP)

Recently asked which player he might like to coach, John McEnroe responded, “Nick Kyrgios.”

Angered by McEnroe’s recent criticism of him, Kyrgios responded by saying McEnroe was “dreaming.”

But the emotional personalities got a taste of a coaching partnership at the Laver Cup, where McEnroe sat alongside Kyrgios during matches as captain of Team World, offering suggestions and encouragement.

And by his own account, Kyrgios enjoyed it.

“Yeah, we just get along pretty well,” said Kyrgios, who had a match point against Roger Federer in the event’s final match but lost, securing the inaugural Laver Cup for Team Europe. “You know, he was just telling me, just leave it all out there and it's all right to lose to a good player. I was just telling him, like, Mac, this is the way I am. It looks like this at times.”

“We were getting along well, and it was really good to have him there.”

Spending time with McEnroe behind the scenes also revealed similarities between the two, added the 22-year-old Australian.

“I actually told him, ‘You don't have the personality that I would have thought played tennis,’” said Kyrgios.

“I asked him, ‘Why did you play?’ He said, ‘You know, it’s the same reason you play. It’s because we are better at it than everything else that we do.’

“I think we can relate on many things. He's been a great help for me. I think he actually understands me, gets where I’m coming from on most things. It’s pretty refreshing having someone that actually understands where I’m coming from.”

Kyrgios also connects with Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, who was beside him the previous week, during a semifinal loss to Belgium.

“Davis Cup I have Lleyton, you know, squatting in front of me, sort of yelling stuff to my face, and it all makes sense to me,” said Kyrgios. “But Johnny is more laid back, but also what he says is spot on. They are very different personalities, but at the same time, they get me, I think.”

McEnroe, 58, and Kyrgios did not indicate there were any discussions about extending the coaching arrangement at other tournaments. Kyrgios has recently worked with Sebastian Grosjean, but does not appear to currently have a coach.

McEnroe also drew attention for a charged and at times vulgar pep talk to Jack Sock while he was playing Rafael Nadal. Sock said the team benefited from McEnroe’s attitude.

“I think it actually got me going a lot,” said Sock, who lost to Nadal in a 10-point match tiebreaker. “Everyone likes to think tennis is a gentleman’s sport, a country-club sport, you have to be very proper and respectful. You listen to an NBA game, if they were miked up, you hear some things from coaches, players. Same in the NFL and a lot of other sports.

“A lot of people like to think tennis needs to be one way, but it’s sport, it’s entertainment."

The three-day event in Prague, which will be held in Chicago next year, created a “new fellowship,” according to McEnroe.

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