In the 226th episode of No Challenges Remaining tennis podcast, Ben Rothenberg from the New York Times (who by the way got destroyed by Djokovic yesterday at a press conference after he kept asking about the ATP President situation) sat down in Rome together with Nick Kyrgios. As always, the Australian had some very unconventional things to say about other players and his life on the tour. You can (and should) listen to the whole podcast here. There are definitely some things that stand out, though, for us to analyze.
Kyrgios’s opinion on Novak Djokovic
I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. I feel like he wants to be liked so much, I can’t stand it
The Australian claimed that if he plays and beats Djokovic again (Kyrgios leads the head-to-head 2-0 after a couple of matches in early 2017), he’ll imitate Novak’s victory celebration, probably referring to the sort of “love-hugging” that Djokovic does, sending the crowds hugs after winning. His claim about it coming from his mentality might not be far from the truth, as it was a big issue for the Serbian in the early days of his career. Back in 2008 and 2009, whenever he played Nadal or Federer it just seemed the whole crowds were against him.
Kyrgios on others
Another pretty aggressive statement was the one he made against Fernando Verdasco:
He’s the most arrogant person ever. He thinks he’s god’s gift but like, dude, your backhand’s pretty average.
There’s a thin line between being a jerk and just openly stating your opinion. Although Kyrgios probably crossed the line, over the years there were a lot of signals that Fernando Verdasco is not a class act. After last year’s match in Miami against Thanasi Kokkinakis (there was a lot of drama as Verdasco asked for a guy to be removed from the stadium and the Australian responded “that’s my f***ing dad”), Kyrgios made a disrespectful tweet that Verdasco is probably angry because of his past results against Australians. The post was later removed but the Spaniard had already seen it and got into a short beef with Kyrgios. Anyway, the Australian probably shouldn’t state opinions like this publicly. One thing he’s definitely right about – Verdasco does have a pretty average backhand.
He’s my polar opposite. He’s super salty every time I beat him.
Can you guess who this one’s about? Yeah, it’s Rafael Nadal. Their head-to-head is currently tied at 3-3 but the losses were pretty painful for the Spaniard. In Acapulco earlier this year, Kyrgios defeated the Spaniard after saving three match points and barely moving for most of the match (somehow he went on to defeat Stan Wawrinka, John Isner, and Alexander Zverev and claim the title). Their first match came at Wimbledon 2014 when Kyrgios was ranked 144th and pretty much unknown prior to the tournament. These losses were huge disappointments for the Spaniard. Kyrgios doesn’t seem to care about tennis that much, so maybe that’s why he takes losing better?
The night before a match
How do you imagine a night before a match of a professional tennis player? In bed at ten, light breakfast? Well, that’s what I imagined. That’s what it probably is for most guys.
If I had a GoPro that week it would’ve been like a movie. I went out every single night, going to sleep about 4.30am. The players party was an all white party, first of all I wore all black and I got absolutely hammered. I don’t know how I won that week.
Absolutely amazing. Not sure if there’s anything to comment on. This was one of the best weeks of his career so far, and the guy was out partying every single night. It’s easy to say that if he really cared he would have been one of the all-time greats, but maybe it would actually be the other way round? This careless attitude might be what’s actually allowing him to be close to unbeatable for these few weeks in a year.
Kyrgios and Ben Rothenberg
The “relationship” between these two is also a thing to take a look at. It dates back to even 2016 when Kyrgios made this statement:
Ben Rothenberg could be the worst writer to exist. Sit the fk down mate. Smh
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) March 5, 2016
They also had various Twitter beefs last year, for example, when Kyrgios commented “da fuq” and soon deleted it under a tweet by Stefanos Tsitsipas. Rothenberg then shared a youtube video by the Greek and Kyrgios commented it with a video meme. See for yourself how it unfolded:
you gonna delete this one too or actually stand by something?
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 29, 2018
And vice versa? But if you want to meet up at Magnolia to talk it out, cupcakes on me.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 29, 2018
Kyrgios also replied to various Rothenberg tweets about players being out of shape. (For example Marcus Willis at Wimbledon 2017; the Australian’s opinion is that a journalist who’s not a professional sportsman can’t state such opinions).
I don't think you are in any position to say if anyone has a low pain threshold? Don't think you are an athlete, unless u keeping secrets?
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 22, 2017
What do you think about Kyrgios here? Did he cross the line or is it great that the tennis world has someone like him? What do you agree with him about?