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Zverev unloads on 'inconsistent' Kyrgios ahead of Australian Open

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Alexander Zverev accepts that his chances of winning the Australian Open are not good, but the German seventh seed rates Nick Kyrgios as an even longer shot to claim a maiden Grand Slam title over the next two weeks.

Zverev, like Kyrgios, has never been past the last eight at a Grand Slam and admitted that his stuttering serve and poor recent form made it unlikely that he would make a deep run at Melbourne Park over the next two weeks.

Kyrgios is Australia’s highest ranked player in the men’s draw, but Zverev was blunt when asked about the prospect of the 23rd seed ending the host nation’s 42-year wait for a homegrown singles champion.

“I think there’s a lot of young guys that are right now, no offence, just better than him,” he told reporters.

“I think (Stefanos) Tsitsipas is better than him, just simply because he is more consistent over five sets and that’s what you need as well.

“It is not a three-set match where you can win in an hour-and-20 and get off the court. To beat the best, you have to play at your best for a longer period of time.”

Warming to his theme, Zverev said he did not even rate 24-year-old Kyrgios as the front-runner to become Australia’s first men’s Grand Slam champion since Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon in 2002.

“In fact, I think Alex De Minaur is just simply more consistent right now as well,” Zverev added.

“I don’t know why not a lot of people talk about him because he’s been playing unbelievable at the ATP Cup ...I think a lot of young guys have a chance this year, it will be interesting to see.”

Unfortunately for home hopes, De Minaur was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open with an abdominal tear on Thursday. [nL4N29L1I1]

Zverev’s loss to De Minaur was one of three at the ATP Cup for the German, compounding the image of a player struggling to find his form.

The 22-year-old, who will play Italian Marco Cecchinato in the first-round, said he had been training harder than usual to try and fix his game.

“I know I’m not the favourite to win this title or something like that, other players are playing better than me,” he said.

“But I give you guys a promise, I will still work my butt off to win every single point out there.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; editing by John Stonestreet