Nick Kyrgios of Australia in action.
Nick Kyrgios of Australia in action. Liu jianmin

'I feel like I can do damage in these tournaments'

NICK Kyrgios says working with a psychologist is helping him discover himself and he feels refreshed and capable of breaking through for his first grand slam title at the Australian Open.

Kyrgios, who served a ban from the ATP tour following a tanking meltdown in Shanghai in October, said he was using the counselling sessions to help devise strategies to cope with the relentless grind of the tennis tour.

The explosive 21-year-old will begin the 2017 season at Perth Arena when Australia takes on Spain in the Hopman Cup on Sunday night.

The world No.13 and partner Daria Gavrilova, ranked 25th, enter the tournament as the highest-ranked male and female as they seek to defend the crown they won as Australia Green last summer.

While he remains without a coach, Kyrgios said he was working continuously with a psychologist.

"Obviously I'm not going to tell you what we talk about, but I think it's helping me for sure,” he said.

"I'm just trying to learn a bit more about myself and obviously just trying to figure out ways to enjoy the sport a little bit more and just enjoy the grind of it.

"It's not easy being away from home so much and going to different places and playing week in, week out. So (I'm) finding strategies to make that easier and enjoy my time on tour a bit more.”

Kyrgios made the last eight at Wimbledon in 2014 and again at the Australian Open in 2015, becoming the first male teenager to have twice made the quarter-finals of a grand slam since Swiss legend Roger Federer in 2001. He said he felt ready to win his first grand slam title, but that it would take more than raw talent.

"I made quarter-finals two years ago, so I feel like if I get the right draw and I have a bit of luck, then I feel like I'm capable,” Kyrgios said.

"You've got to have a bit more than a game. It's physically really tough. In the early rounds you want everything to go well. I feel like I can do damage in these tournaments, definitely.”

Former Hopman Cup tournament director Paul McNamee has urged Kyrgios to target breaking into the world's top 10, saying it would provide him with a valuable focus. But Australia's top-ranked player said he was not concerned with rankings and he was willing to sacrifice rankings points for the sake of having a more comfortable schedule.

"Ranking goals for me haven't really been a goal at all. I have never set a ranking goal. I just really want to stay healthy and be able to play the events that I choose and play them well,” Kyrgios said.

"I don't want to have too much of a hectic schedule. I don't want to be that guy travelling to every tournament every week away from my family. I want to spend as much time as I can with my family and my loved ones.”

The annual mixed teams event begins on Sunday when the Czech Republic and the United States meet, with Federer to play his first match on Monday night against Great Britain's Dan Evans.

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