OPINION

Nick Kyrgios is one of the most talented tennis players on the planet and the sport needs him.

But the Next Gen star is once again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after his second round exit from the Australian Open.

'A black eye for the sport': Nick Kyrgios makes another grand exit

He polarises opinion but remains one of the most watchable players on tour. Kyrgios has been labelled a national embarrassment across the Tasman for his antics which include telling Stan Wawrinka on court that his girlfriend was 'banging a 19 year old" and copping a 10 week suspension for tanking at last year's Shanghai Masters.

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John McEnroe has called Kyrgios 'a black eye on the sport' after his five sets defeat by Andreas Seppi in the second round in Melbourne. But let's be honest, McEnroe as great a player as he was did not get the nickname 'super brat' for his respect to the etiquette of tennis.

Kyrgios prefers basketball to tennis, and told me last year in Shanghai he doesn't love the sport and have the passion for the game he plays; it's merely a job and he won't be playing it for very long.

That's a shame because he is so gifted and has the build of a modern tennis player, produces outrageous shot making, a thunderous serve and has a real swagger about him on court.

Listen: Tennis commentator Nick Lester on Nick Kyrgios

I first met him as a shy 17-year-old at the French Open in 2013 where he was under the tutelage of New Zealand's Simon Rea. He sat and had breakfast with us, was quiet, well mannered and unassuming. He would go on and beat former world number eight Radek Stepanek in straight sets and the following year came THAT win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.

So it was so disappointing to see him not trying hard enough at times against Seppi and being found physically wanting. His preparation wasn't ideal, didn't put in enough work in the off season where he spent more time shooting hoops than on the tennis court.

Kyrgios doesn't yet have the ability to dig in and fight, and part of that is due to the fact he's just about the only top 100 player without a coach.

There are a lot of people tired of giving Kyrgios a break, but remember he is just 21. Roger Federer at 21 was a hot head. He won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003, a month shy of his 23rd birthday.

So there is plenty of time for Kyrgios to mature and get a coach who understands him and importantly for him to discover the will to win.

Watching his media conference I got the feeling last night's loss to Seppi hurt and that's a good thing and shows that perhaps he does care and can change, because tennis will be worse off without him.

Matt Brown is the Newstalk ZB Breakfast Sports presenter and Radio Sport tennis commentator