Nick Kyrgios of Australia sends down a serve.
Nick Kyrgios of Australia sends down a serve. Tetsu Joko

Nadal backs Kyrgios to realise his potential

TENNIS: Rafael Nadal reckons wild child Nick Kyrgios can put a controversial year behind him by reaching new heights in 2017.

Kyrgios is getting ready to return to competition after his infamous 6-3 6-1 loss to German journeyman Mischa Zverev, a game in which the Aussie's antics got him booted from the ATP Tour.

It capped an otherwise successful year on the court for the 21-year-old, who won three titles in 2016 and reached a career-high ranking of No.13 in the world.

"(He is) a player who has an unbelievable potential,” Nadal told News Corp Australia.

"He has focus on himself, and can become world No.1 and win a grand slam.”

Nadal added that fellow Australian young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis can also make an impact on the tour if he can overcome his injury issues.

"In this new generation you will need to see how Kokkinakis will evolve. He suffered an injury (shoulder) and we don't know how he will come back, but he has the potential to be at the top,” Nadal said.

Nadal, 30, is hoping he can return to his best after his 2016 season ended in October due to a wrist injury.

Ahead of taking part in the Brisbane International and Australian Open in Melbourne, he will compete in Abu Dhabi from December 29.

"I'm practising (a lot), I am in the middle of the pre-season and at the moment everything is going well,” he said.

"I am willing to work and so far I (am managing) to do it.”