TENNIS: Nick Kyrgios is first to admit he and fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic haven't been the best behaved during their careers.
But among a crowd of the next generation of Australian tennis stars, when it comes to sharing their passion for tennis, for two players sometimes accused of lacking exactly that, their love for the game shines through most when with their youngest, and biggest fans.
"Who wants to be my doubles partner?” Kyrgios asked a group of seven-year-olds at the Hot Shots' Red Ball Showdown in Sydney.
Within seconds Kyrgios is mobbed by kids screaming for his attention, racquets in the air, all desperate to share the court with their tennis idol.
It might be hard for some of the tennis-loving public to comprehend such fandom with all the drama on and off-court both Kyrgios and Tomic have been involved in over the years, but seven-year-olds don't care about all that. To them, this pair are rock stars.
"Me and Bernard, we won't always be the greatest role models. I think in the past, we've done some silly things, but we've also played some good tennis,” Kyrgios said.
"Ultimately that's what these guys want to be.
"I feel like we've had some great wins, we've competed at the top of the game.”
The Davis Cup teammates appeared relaxed and upbeat at the FAST4 Showdown, where they were promoting the 'Twenty20 of tennis'.
As the Australian Open draws closer however, there is plenty of attention on the duo touted the nation's biggest chances at the grand slam in Melbourne beginning next week.
"I lost to David Ferrer [at the Brisbane International], it's not easy, he's one of the top players in our sport. I've been practising since and I'm excited to be here this week. It's a stepping stone to the Australian Open,” Tomic said.
"I'm sure we're both aiming to go deep.”
An injured left knee has made the task a little more difficult for Kyrgios, but at the FAST4 Showdown he played without taping and moved freely throughout his 4-3 2-4 4-3 4-3 win over Rafael Nadal in the short format of the sport.
"I'm going to lay it all on the line in Melbourne. Whether it hurts or not, I'm going to push it to the limit,” Kyrgios said.
"With the grand slams me and Bernard tend to step up, and that's where we like to play. I'm going to try and leave it all out there.”
And if that positive attitude wasn't music to the ears of Australian tennis fans, Tomic's prediction for Kyrgios at the Open was.
"Regardless if he's not ready, he's going to serve about 50 aces.”
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