Nick Kyrgios might be the future of Australian tennis but he can’t restore the nation’s glory days alone, according to all-time greats Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall.
When the legendary Australian pair were at the peak of their careers, they were pushed along by strong camaraderie and rivalry with their countrymen.
Both believe 19-year-old Kyrgios can fulfil his exciting potential one day but say it’s essential others do too.
“You need more than one,” 11-time grand slam champion Laver said.
“You look back at (Frank) Sedgman and (Ken) McGregor and then you go into (Lew) Hoad and Rosewall.
“Then you go into my era with (Roy) Emerson, (Malcolm) Anderson, (Ashley) Cooper – all the way down the line, you weren’t on your own.
“You’re one of about four or five champions and that brings everybody up.
“Hopefully, if Nick is capable, he’s got some buddies that come along with him.”
Laver has also been impressed by another Australian teen, Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is close friends with Kyrgios.
“So with the two of them, that can be a forerunner of a lot more kids saying ‘I’m going to play this game’,” Laver said.
Rosewall wants to see a return to the culture of his era, in which Australian players were rivals on the court but also a team.
“We need those guys to travel more together or be together more as a group,” the eight-time grand slam champion said.
“I know they’ve got to play against each other from time to time, but everybody does that.”
While teenagers Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are creating the most excitement for the future, Rosewall hopes 21-year-old Bernard Tomic will also fulfil his potential.
“Hopefully, he can kind of get his act together 100 per cent,” Rosewall said of Tomic, who has slipped outside the world’s top 100.
“He’s got a lot of support and I think he’s still got some talent to improve his game, but he’s got to work harder.”
Rosewall wants to see a similar rejuvenation in the women’s game, hoping a new star will emerge to excite future generations.
“It’s disappointing that Sam (Stosur) hasn’t kind of progressed a little bit more, because she had created an image, having won the US Open,” Rosewall said.
“That’s good for the younger girls to say ‘well, I want to be like Samantha Stosur, play like her’.
“We need somebody in that position.”