Kyrgios banking on Barty to break our Open drought
NICK Kyrgios is "100 per cent" on the Ashleigh Barty bandwagon after having his own Australian Open campaign derailed.
A two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist as a teenager, Kyrgios flew the Australian flag for years as the country's great hope at the majors.
Now he is convinced his former junior colleague is equipped to carry the expectations of a success-starved nation, banking on the world No.1 to break Australia's 42-year Open title drought.
Barty's steely 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 win over dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Tuesday leaves the 23-year-old as Australia's first women's semi-finalist since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.
Kyrgios has no doubt the French Open champion can go all the way and add a second slam to her CV.
"One hundred per cent. She's a Grand Slam champion. She's been dealing with expectation for as long as I've known," Kyrgios said.
"She was killing it in juniors, then she stepped away from the game to sort her life out, her mind out.
"Then she came back and she's killing it. She's probably the favourite at this stage to win the slam the way she's playing.
"I want her to win it. I think it's awesome we have an Aussie doing that well.
"She'll do fine. Just don't put too much expectation on her."
Up against American Sofia Kenin in Thursday's semi-finals, Barty could square off with reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep for the title.
Even Halep's Australian coach, Darren Cahill, has been swept up in Barty's emotion-charged run to the last four.
"I'm Australian, so everything that Ash has done in the last two or three years has been inspiring for all of us," Cahill said.
"And it's not just what she's been able to do between the lines. It's the way she's been able to do it and the way she's conducted herself outside of the lines.
"She's an inspiration for not only the young generation here in Australia but for everybody.
"My generation, as well. She epitomises what we think Australians are all about, and that is hard work, give it your best shot, being really humble in success and shaking somebody's hand if they are too good for you and saying, 'Well played, mate. You were too good today'.
"That is Ash Barty. I think that sums her up. The fact that she won the Young Australian of the Year Award at the honours, Australia Day Honours, she thoroughly deserves that because she is genuinely a great person.
"I'm really happy for her. If we are lucky enough, Arte (co-coach Artemon Apostu-Efremov) and I, to be coaching against her on Saturday, that would be a good problem to have."