Australia’s Nick Kyrgios made some light-hearted comments in his wide-ranging podcast interview, but he got serious when asked about Djokovic and Nadal. (Reuters/USA TODAY Sports: Geoff Burke)
Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has ripped into two of the game’s greats, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, labelling the Serbian as having a sick obsession with being liked and blasting Nadal as “super salty”.
- Nick Kyrgios told reporter and podcaster Ben Rothenberg there was “no chance” he could ever become a consistent player
- He described Rafael Nadal as “my polar opposite” and said Novak Djokovic’s post-match celebration was “cringeworthy”
- He said he worried his parents would disown him if he elaborated on the “dark places” to which tennis had taken him
Kyrgios spoke to New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg for his podcast No Challenges Remaining.
In it Kyrgios acknowledged he did the “least work of anyone on tour”, hinted that tennis had taken him to some “dark places”, and said there was “no chance” that he would ever be able to become a player who performed consistently.
“If I had that, Jesus, I’d probably have a couple of Grand Slam (titles) already,” he said. “But I just don’t think that’s my personality.”
He told Rothenberg that while he had no exit strategy for tennis, there was also “no chance” his body was going to last, and he had maybe “four or five years left if just doing my own thing” in the game.
Speaking in the wake of his excellent win on clay over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in Rome this week, Kyrgios also admitted that the week of the Mexican Open in Acapulco in March this year, where he won the title over Alexander Zverev, that he had gone out partying every night and was going to bed at 4:30am.
Nick Kyrgios said he couldn’t elaborate on his “dark places” comment, because “if my parents listen to this then they’re going to disown me for sure”. (AP: Andrew Medichini)
When the talk turned to his impressions of other leading tennis players on tour that the Canberran appeared to drop any remaining filter on his thoughts.
Asked about Nadal, who earlier this year accused him of lacking respect for others and for the game of tennis, Kyrgios said:
“He’s my polar opposite, like literally my polar opposite. And he’s super salty,” he said.
“He [Nadal] won’t say anything bad, he’ll credit the opponent, ‘He was a great player’. But as soon as I beat him, it’s just like, ‘He has no respect for me, my fans, and no respect to the game’.
“And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ I literally played this way when I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed, nothing changed.
“And then [Nadal’s] Uncle Toni came out saying, ‘He lacks education.’
“I’m like, ‘Bra, I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I’m very educated. I understand that you’re upset I beat your family again’.”
Rafael Nadal was not happy with Nick Kyrgios’ attitude when he lost to the Australian at the Mexican Open in March 2019. (AP: Rebecca Blackwell)
Kyrgios said he was not going to be the same as Nadal, that they were different people: “Why can’t we just accept that? You know what you’re walking into when we walk out there. Don’t wait until you lose to say things.”
“You’re asking me why I do things and why I go back at fans in the crowd. And that’s why.
“These guys show me no respect. None. So why would I show you respect? For instance, when I’m taking matches, I don’t care that you paid for tickets.
“You guys treat me like crap anyway. Rafa gets me vexed, as well.”
Djokovic also cops a serve from Kyrgios
When the conversation turned to world number one Djokovic, Kyrgios acknowledged the Serbian player’s ability and achievements in the game, but slated him for not being able to beat the Australian in their two matches on tour.
“He’s an unbelievable player. He’s a champion of the sport, one of the greatest we’ll ever see. He probably will, honestly, I reckon he will get the Grand Slam count, I reckon he will overpass Federer.
“[But] we’re talking about a guy who pulled out of the Australian Open one year because it was too hot. No matter how many Grand Slams he wins, he will never be the greatest for me.
“Simply because I’ve played him twice and like, I’m sorry, but if you can’t beat me, you’re not the greatest of all time. Because if you like look at my day-to-day routine and how much I train and how much I put in, it’s zero compared to him.
“For me, Federer will always be the greatest of all time, hands down. What he’s done on all surfaces.
“What Rafa’s done as well is pretty scary. He’s won how many Roland Garroses? Eleven. He adapted his game to grass as well, which is pretty crazy.”
The Canberran also hit out at Djokovic’s personality.
TennisTV tweet: Team Djokognini win! @DjokerNole and @fabiofogna beat Chardy-Raonic 7-6, 6-1 – and check out the celebration after…#BNPPO19
“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger,” he said.
“For me personally, I don’t care right now. I’ve come this far — I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him.”
He reserved some of his worst scorn for Djokovic’s habit of celebration known colloquially on tour as the “boob-throwing celebration”.
“This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy,” Kyrgios said.
“These guys [Djokovic and Nadal], they’re not bad guys, but him [Djokovic] especially … the celebration just kills me.”
He laid out his intentions the next time he managed to beat the world number one.
“Honestly, that’s what I’m doing next time: if I play [Djokovic] and beat him, I’m doing his celebration, in front of him. That would be hilarious, right?”
Asked by Rothenberg for examples of the “dark places” tennis had taken him, Kyrgios said: “I don’t know if I want to share this right now, because if my parents listen to this then they’re going to disown me for sure.”