They were the best of enemies for many years but now Nick Kyrgios says is relationship with Novak Djokovic is getting “weird”.
It was only 18 months ago Nick Kyrgios was mimicking Novak Djokovic’s victory celebration at the 2021 Australian Open and telling reporters he did not like the Serbian star “at all”.
Two years prior he had branded the then world number one as “cringeworthy” and suggested he had a “sick obsession” with being liked while arguing why Roger Federer would always be the greatest in his book.
So it’s a remarkable turn of events to hear Kyrgios describing his current relationship with his potential Wimbledon final opponent as a “bromance”.
It all turned when the Canberra native openly criticised Djokovic’s treatment by Australian border officials when he arrived to play in the 2022 Australian Open unvaccinated.
Kyrgios says it created a mutual level of respect that has now led to “weird” Instagram messages.
“We definitely have a bit of bromance now, which is weird,” Kyrgios said on Friday.
“Everyone knows there was no love lost for a while there. I think it was healthy for the sport. 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 player to stand up for him with all the drama at the Australian Open. I feel like that’s where respect is earned. Not on the tennis court but when a real-life crisis is happening and someone stands up for you.
“We actually message each other on DMs on Instagram now. It’s real weird. Earlier in the week he was like ‘hopefully I’ll see you Sunday’.”
It’s a far cry from when in 2019 Kyrgios declared Djokovic “just wants to be Federer” and criticised his post-match celebration where he would walk to the centre of the court and acknowledge all four sections of the crowd like the Swiss master.
“I feel he wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him,” Kyrgios said during a podcast appearance.
“This celebration thing is so cringeworthy.
“He’s unbelievable, a champion of the sport, one of the greatest we will ever see. I think he will get the grand slam count and overtake 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 to me …
“Novak just riles me the wrong way. He always says what he thinks he needs to say rather than his actual opinion.
“The celebration kills me. Every time he does it, it just kills me.”
These days Kyrgios is nothing but respect and described Djokovic as a “winner” when he was asked by a reporter on Friday if he was ready to step up and lead the post-Big Three era.
“No. No. No, I don’t,” Kyrgios said. “I don’t think anyone is able to fill those shoes. We’ve got a great crop of young players coming up … but no one is able to fill those shoes.
“We’ll never see a competitor like Rafa again. You’ll never see someone wield a racket like Roger so effortlessly. And you’ll never see anyone who just wins and just plays the game so good like Djokovic.
“Once they’re gone, I’m not sure (where tennis goes). If I am ever able to lift a grand slam trophy, please don’t put the pressure on me to do another one.”