MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash has urged Nick Kyrgios to cut out distractions such as social media and practice harder to fulfil his potential, but the Australian firebrand responded by telling Cash to mind his own business -- via Twitter.
A prolific user of Twitter with 177,000 followers, Kyrgios has stoked controversy with a number of provocative messages, including taking pot-shots at Davis Cup team mate Bernard Tomic and Australia's Olympic chef de mission Kitty Chiller.
Cash, who won Wimbledon in 1987, said he avoided media coverage to focus on his game before the Internet took hold and suggested his 21-year-old compatriot needed to keep the distractions of social media at bay.
"I'm probably the only player on Earth who can have an understanding of where he's at and what he's been through and what he's going through," Cash told local media of Kyrgios, who bowed out of the French Open third round last week.
"He needs to learn just to roll with it.
"Enjoy your life but just don't get involved in having arguments with Aussie Rules football players and stuff like that who really have no freaking clue what it's like to be out there on your own, around the world playing the best athletes in the world.
"Everything that wasn't involved in me improving as a tennis player was a distraction to me," added 51-year-old Cash, who still competes regularly on the ATP's senior Champions Tour.
"So I just focused on being the best I could be. That (meant) working hard.
"I've got my name on a couple of boards somewhere, that's what I play for, to be successful and be the best I can be. It'd be a pity for Nick not to do that."
Kyrgios wasted little time in dismissing Cash's advice.
"Haha 'ditch social media' - can people keep their opinions to themselves please. Leave me alone. This is my last tweet for you Cashy," the world number 19 tweeted on Tuesday.
Although boasting prodigious talent and touted as a future grand slam champion, Kyrgios's behavior on and off the court has polarized players and fans.
Olympic team boss Chiller said earlier this month that Kyrgios's behavior in the public arena could affect his selection chance for Rio.
Kyrgios brushed off the warning and launched a poll on Facebook asking social media followers to decide whether he was fit to be an Olympian.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)