Nick Kyrgios said the Australian Open furore surrounding Novak Djokovic’s vaccination status gave rise to their new-found “bromance” as the controversial Aussie paid tribute to Lleyton Hewitt’s unwavering support while pointing the finger at others for their “sick obsession with tearing me down.”
Speaking ahead of the biggest match of his career in the Wimbledon final against Djokovic on Sunday night (AEST), Kyrgios, who has a 2-0 record over the Serb great, spoke of the “disappointment” he felt when he first heard Rafael Nadal had withdrawn from their semi-final, having only managed an hour of sleep the night before.
READ MORE: Kyrgios’s infuriating hold over bitter foe
READ MORE: Djokovic sets up ‘mouth-watering’ Kyrgios clash
READ MORE: Smith, Labuschagne lead Aussies with tones
READ MORE: Teen star blocked from Wimbledon
However, his relationship with Djokovic and the lack of support from some former Australian players took center stage, with Kyrgios admitting his kinship with the Serbian No.1 seed took a positive turn following his acrimonious eviction from Australia over the vaccination saga.
Big danger for Kyrgios in first Slam final
Djokovic defeated No. 9 seed Cam Norrie of Britain 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the semi-finals to take his winning streak at the All England Club to 27 matches as he pursues a fourth straight championship .
Under usual circumstances the final would be the grudge match to end all grudge matches, considering the history between both players.
Kyrgios’ disdain for the Serbian star was palpable, once saying he would mimic Djokovic’s celebration if he beat him for a third time, while criticizing the Serbian star for having an “obsession with wanting to be liked”.
He also described Djokovic’s decision to go ahead with his exhibition tournament during the pandemic as “boneheaded” and even called him a “tool” leading into the 2021 Australian Open because Djokovic asked organizers to ease quarantine restrictions for players.
Strangely, Kyrgios goes into the his first ever Grand Slam final against “The Djoker” with no animosity.
And it all came about during a time of crisis for the world No.3.
Kyrgios went into bat for Djokovic when he faced deportation ahead of this year’s Australian Open, calling the whole situation a “shit show” and criticized then-immigration minister Alex Hawke over his handling of the situation.
Masur impressed by Kyrgios composure
That led to a mutual respect between the two, said Kyrgios, who described their current relationship as “weird”.
“We definitely have a bit of a bromance now, which is weird,” said Kyrgios, who added that Djokovic sends him direct messages on Instagram. “I think everyone knows there was no love lost for a while there. I think it was healthy for the sport. I think every time we played each other, there was hype around it. It was interesting for the media, the people watching, all that.
“I felt like I was almost the only kind of player and someone to stand up for him with all that kind of drama at Australian Open. I feel like that’s where respect is kind of earned — not on the tennis court, but I feel like when a real-life crisis is happening and someone stands up for you.”
After his semi-final win, Djokovic praised Kyrgios for getting to the final, saying “this is where he needs to be, and he deserves to be.”
While there’s more love between both men these days, Kyrgios couldn’t say the same for a section of former Australian players, who have been critical of his run at Wimbledon this year.
The world No.40 has been embroiled in several controversial moments on and off the court during the tournament, from being fined for spitting and swearing. That led to former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash to say the 27-year-old had “gone too far” with his antics on the court. On top of that, he was also summoned to court to face a charge of common assault next month.
Yet, the support of Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, the last Aussie man to win Wimbledon in 2002 who hit with Kyrgios during the tournament, was lauded by the finalist, while taking a shot at others.
“The kind of only great that’s ever been supportive of me the whole time has been Lleyton Hewitt,” said Kyrgios.
“Like, he knows. He’s our Davis Cup captain, and he kind of knows that I kind of do my own thing.
Djokovic advances in Wimbledon fightback
“I mean, look, as for the greats of Australian tennis, they haven’t always been the best to me personally,” Kyrgios added. “They haven’t always been supportive. They haven’t been supportive these two weeks. So it’s hard for me to kind of read things that they say about me. I’m definitely the outcast of the Australian players.
“It’s pretty sad because I don’t get any support from any of the other Australian tennis players, the male side. Not the players, but like the past greats. It’s weird they just have like a sick obsession with tearing me down for some reason.
“Like, I just don’t know whether they don’t like me or they’re, like, afraid. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. But it sucks, because if it was roles reversed , if I saw (Alex) De Minaur in a final, or if I saw Jordan Thompson or Thanasi (Kokkinakis), I’d be pumped. I’d be stoked. I’d be having a pint watching, going nuts.”
As for his clash with Nadal, the Aussie said he was hoping for a “third chapter” after going 1-1 in two previous matches against Nadal at Wimbledon.
Djokovic saga ‘a complete mess’
“My energy was so focused on playing [Nadal] and tactically how I’m going to go out there and play, the emotions of walking out there, all that type of stuff,” said Kyrgios, who said he learned of Nadal’s decision while he was eating dinner Thursday.
“But, you know, it wouldn’t have been easy for him to do that [withdraw]. … He barely lost a match this year. He wanted to probably go for all four. So it wouldn’t be easy. I hope he gets better.
“I had a shocking sleep last night, though, to be honest,” Kyrgios added. “I probably got an hour’s sleep just with everything, like the excitement. I had so much anxiety. I was already feeling so nervous, and I don’t feel nervous usually.
He added: “I was just restless. So many thoughts in my head about a Wimbledon final. That’s all I was thinking about. I was thinking just [about] playing, obviously imagining myself winning, imagining myself losing. Everything. I feel like I’m just a reckless ball of energy right now. I just want to go out on the practice court now and hit some tennis balls and just talk. I don’t know. I want it to come already. Yeah, I want the final to come already.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
Wimbledon 2022: Brawling security guards arrested by police
#Weird #Novak #bromance #Kyrgios #slams #greats