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Australian Open: Is Nick Kyrgios a genuine contender?

A mercurial talent, the 27-year-old can produce some of the most scintillating shots, lighting up a court in an effortless manner, but it's his hot temper and what can only be described as mad moments that often let him down. 

The Australian has been accused of tanking on more than one occasion, he smashes rackets on a regular basis, argues with umpires and even gets involved with members of the crowd - you only have to remember back to the Wimbledon final this year when he asked for a fan to be thrown out. 

While the mental side of his game may not be as strong as others, Kyrgios still has the ability to go deep in the Grand Slams and he will be aiming for another strong run at the 2023 Australian Open.

What: 2023 Australian Open 
When: 16th-29th January 29, 2023 
Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne 
How to watch: Amazon Prime 
Odds: Novak Djokovic 11/10, Carlos Alcaraz 11/2, Daniil Medvedev 7/1, Nick Kyrgios 10/1, Rafael Nadal 12/1 

Positive year sets up Kyrgios nicely 

Despite all the on-court antics and off-court issues, Kyrgios played some solid stuff during 2022 and he reached his first singles Grand Slam final at Wimbledon - eventually losing out to Novak Djokovic in four sets. 

The Canberra-born star also managed to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open - his best run at Flushing Meadows - while he claimed doubles glory at the Australian Open alongside compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis. 

Kyrgios grabbed his seventh ATP Tour title at the Washington Open, beating Yoshihito Nishioka in the final, and there should be big optimism for him heading into 2023. 

Poor Melbourne record a concern

Although Kyrgios clinched doubles glory at the Australian Open this year, his singles record doesn't make for good reading and his best finish remains a quarter-final appearance in 2015. 

Since that last-eight outing, his results read 3R, 2R, 4R, 1R, 4R, 3R and 2R. It is a real concern that the Aussie has been unable to produce his best in his home Grand Slam, but will that change in 2023? 

Unfortunately for Kyrgios the strongest part of his game is his serve, and while this is a huge advantage when it comes to grass-court events, big servers have not always gone well in Melbourne. 

Huge amount taken from final loss

One thing Kyrgios has heading into 2023 that he didn't at the beginning of 2022 is experience of a Grand Slam final, and this could turn out to be invaluable. 

Although he went down in four sets at the All England Club, just making the showpiece event was a huge moment for the Australian and he will be more at ease if he manages to go deep in further Slams from now on. 

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Expectations high

You have to go all the way back to 1976 for the last time a home male player won the Australian Open singles, when Mark Edmondson overcame compatriot John Newcombe 6–7, 6–3, 7–6, 6–1. 

Ashleigh Barty ended the wait for a home winner in the women's draw last year, as she beat Danielle Collins, so there is the hope this can be replicated in the men's event next month. 

It will be difficult for Kyrgios, whose only home success came at the 2018 Brisbane International, to go all the way and it will be interesting to see how he handles the extra pressure. 

There is also the fact Djokovic is back in the draw for 2023, while 19-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz arrives as the reigning US Open champion and he will be hopeful of Grand Slam number two. 

Injury at the wrong time?

Controversy does seem to follow Kyrgios wherever he goes and the latest episode came on the eve of the inaugural edition of the United Cup, which runs from 29th December to 8th January. 

The world number was set to lead Australia in the joint ATP and WTA event, which is being held in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, but he withdrew because of an apparent injury, much to the surprise of his teammates and co-captains. 

Kyrgios then posted a video on Instagram shortly after the announcement was made where he was seen out in the sunshine at a harbour with the caption "beautiful day". 

He made no reference to his withdrawal or his injury. Whether he is struggling with an injury is up for debate, but the timing of this incident is not ideal and the fact he won't be fine-tuning his game in this event only serves as another blow.

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