Nick Kyrgios has delivered a brutally frank assessment on some of the legends of men's tennis after insisting there is "no way" they would be able to stack up against the game's modern greats. The 27-year-old Aussie appeared on a recent Impaulsive podcast, hosted by YouTube personality Logan Paul, when he was asked for his thoughts on various sporting topics.
The basketball-loving Kyrgios started off chatting about the NBA when the subject soon turned to a discussion on who he thought was the greatest of all time (GOAT). Kyrios has never hidden his love of six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, so it was little surprise when MJ's name came up in that discussion.
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However, things got a little more interesting when he was asked to weigh into the debate about who the GOAT is in men's tennis. Roger Federer was for a long time considered to be the best ever until his all-time record of grand slam singles titles (20) was surpassed by Rafa Nadal and then Novak Djokovic, who are tied on 22 major titles.
Djokovic just this week equalled women's tennis great Steffi Graf's all-time record after enjoying his 377th week at the top of the world standings. Next week, he'll hold the record outright as the player who's spent the most time as World No.1 in the history of the sport.
When Kyrgios was asked to give his verdict on the GOAT of tennis, he admitted that Djokovic's records were hard to look past. "(Roger) Federer and (basketball legend Michael) Jordan are very similar," Kyrgios responded. "But I think Novak (Djokovic) statistically is better. "
Nadal was rather curiously not mentioned by Kyrgios in the GOAT discussion, despite sharing the all-time grand slam record with Djokovic. The Spaniard and Kyrgios have often shared a prickly relationship towards one another, which could explain the Aussie's snub.
Talk then turned to some of the past champions of tennis such as Andre Agassi (eight majors), John McEnroe (seven) and 14-time grand slam singles Pete Sampras - the American once regarded as the greatest until the era of Federer. When asked whether any of those players could be considered in the GOAT debate, the Aussie bluntly shut down any such notion.
"No way," Kyrgios replied. "Because I think Jordan could still play in this era (in the NBA), whereas those guys would get absolutely snipped in this era. "
Nick Kyrgios never one to hide his true feelings
Kyrgios has never been shy of telling it the way he sees it, and while the 27-year-old's opinion might ruffle a few feathers in the tennis world, many praise him for remaining true to himself. Tennis coach Dmitry Tursunov - who recently worked with Emma Raducanu before joining up with Belinda Bencic - said the Aussie's authenticity is part of the reason why he sells out stadiums.
“In tennis they are trying to neuter the emotions out of the sport,” Tursunov said on the Craig Shapiro Tennis Podcast. “Players are afraid to show their personality, to say (sic) their minds, because nowadays anything you say can be twisted.
“You say that ‘I played great today’, someone’s going to say that, ‘oh, he sounds cocky, he’s putting his opponent down.’ So players in general are just afraid to be themselves. That’s why I think Nick Kyrgios sells out every freaking stadium that he plays in because he hasn’t been neutered enough. He’s been fined enough, but he doesn’t mind it. He’s a pretty strong personality if you ask me."
Kyrgios is hoping to return to the court for the upcoming Masters event at Indian Wells next month, after withdrawing from the Australian Open and undergoing surgery on his troublesome knee. The American hard court tournament is the first ATP 1000 event of the 2023 season, with Kyrgios going down to Nadal in the quarter-finals of last year's tournament.
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