Nick Kyrgios out of reach of Tennis Australia help - Todd Woodbridge
Tennis great Todd Woodbridge continues to be frustrated by Tennis Australia's inability to influence its young stars beyond their teenage years.
Woodbridge's lament comes in the wake of troubled talent Nick Kyrgios being handed an eight-week suspension from the ATP for tanking in his second-round match at the Shanghai Masters last week.
Woodbridge, who was running TA's development programme when Kyrgios was coming through, doubts he could have done more to help the 21-year-old and said the governing body's hands were often tied when it came to sanctioning their players for misdemeanours.
"I've done media courses with Nick when he was a teenager, I've done all sorts of things to be able to put those [coping] mechanisms in place," Woodbridge said on Tuesday.
"The funding comes in the junior years when we send them off on world tours - we don't fund him now," Woodbridge said.
Woodbridge said management groups in particular ensured players like Kyrgios were kept out of TA's reach.
"What you'll find in our sport that is interesting is that when we have good athletes we are able to influence them up until around 16, 17, 18 [years of age]," he said.
"By then if they are touted as world class, like Nick was, then there are management groups that come in, they put a wedge between what an organisation can do and become intent with families and all types of issues like that that we can't control because they are, in essence, an independent contractor who runs their own business once they are fully fledged to hit the tour.
"That's where it gets frustrating for someone like myself because we know what's in place and we try and give as much good advice as we can and we continue to try to do that but you do get tied.
"We are not a footy club who has an ability to be able to sanction in the way that some people would like us to."
Woodbridge said the ATP had no choice but to suspend Kyrgios for his latest episode of petulance but described the sanction as an "essential lifeline" for the three-time title winner.
The ban will be reduced to three weeks if Kyrgios seeks help from a professional psychologist for his behavioural issues.
"I think it's probably good to put the racquets up and go do some work on what they've put forward to him," Woodbridge said.
"So they've given him a bit of a lifeline, really, but it's an essential lifeline that I think is important for Nick to improve.
"He's got this part of his game that he has to learn how to deal with. It's not just his game, mind you, it's about his health as well so that the stresses that he puts on himself can allow him to just be a happy, young lad."
Woodbridge insisted that Kyrgios actually hated the way he behaved and the 16-time grand slam doubles champion hoped the youngster could turn things around and become a role model like Andre Agassi did.
"It comes down to dealing with the expectations of the tour, what the media expects of you, what the fans expect of you and also what he expects of himself and how he manages that," Woodbridge said.
"If he puts all that together – it's a pretty big basket, mind you - he can improve for next year.
"If you give him some time and he starts to get some performances he can do some really good things that'll be great to watch.
"He can ultimately become a role model potentially like an Agassi. Agassi had his troubles in his career ... but he didn't get past them until he was closer to 30, not closer to 20."
- Sydney Morning Herald