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Kyrgios opens up in podcast interview: 'I do the least amount of work out of the top 100'

Hannah Wilks in News 15 May 2019
  • Nick Kyrgios in open, wide-ranging interview for No Challenge Remaining podcast
  • Speaking to Ben Rothenberg, Kyrgios calls himself 'the person who literally does the least amount of work on tour'
  • Kyrgios critical of other players including Novak Djokovic: 'He has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked'
Nick Kyrgios in action at the Madrid Masters (PA Sport)

Nick Kyrgios opens up on lack of effort and criticizes other players in interview with No Challenges Remaining podcast.

Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios gives a frank and wide-ranging interview to the tennis podcast No Challenges Remaining.

Speaking to Ben Rothenberg, with whom he has frequently sparred on Twitter, Kyrgios gives his opinions on his own career and approach to the game as well as on fellow players including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic.

A Wimbledon quarterfinalist as a wildcard in 2014, when he beat Nadal, Kyrgios was ranked as high as world no. 13 in 2016 and has won five ATP Tour titles, including the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco in March where he beat Nadal, Wawrinka and world no. 3 Alexander Zverev among others. 

Nick Kyrgios during his match against Daniil Medvedev in Rome (PA Sport)
But the Australian has always been a magnet for controversy since he broke through to international attention. He is frequently accused of tanking matches and has been frequently fined and disciplined by the ATP Tour, who even suspended him at one point. Recently, Nadal said that Kyrgios 'lacks respect for the public, the rival and himself'.

The perception of Kyrgios as a very talented player who lacks discipline and commitment is unlikely to be dispelled by the 24-year-old's own comments.

In the interview, which is available to listen to and to download here, Kyrgios talks about a number of subjects including his own work ethic, talking about much he respects players who work hard on a daily basis and calling the approach 'a talent in itself': 'If I had that, Jesus, I'd probably have a couple of Grand Slams already, but ... I just don't think that's my personality.'

Kyrgios also discusses the underarm serve, a tactic he used against Nadal in Acapulco and which has sparked a flurry of imitations across the game, while fans seem divided about whether the ploy - which is within the rules of the game - is a legitimate one or unsportsmanlike. Kyrgios used the underarm serve against Daniil Medvedev in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over the Russian in Rome on Tuesday.

'Everyone's so professional compared to me,' Kyrgios said, calling himself 'the person who literally does the least amount of work on tour', a conclusion he claims to have arrived at when seeing compatriot Bernard Tomic putting in more effort to prepare for a doubles match than he himself.

Kyrgios's admission that he spent much of his time at the 500-level Abierto Mexicano Telcel partying and drinking, saying that he got 'absolutely hammered' at the official player party and went out every night, is unlikely to endear him to Nadal, who brought up his defeat to Kyrgios in Acapulco again in Rome this week, saying: 'Of all the matches I lost this year, I deserved this undoing in all of them except against Kyrgios in Acapulco.'

On No Challenges Remaining, Kyrgios talked about going out every night during the tournament:

'I was playing and I was packing my going-out clothes in my tennis bag, no word of a lie. ... I was jet-skiing, I was partying and I won the tournament and I'm just like, how, do you know what I mean?'

For all of Kyrgios's self-awareness and frank discussion of his motivations, however, the part of the interview which is likely to garner the most attention is when he is asked to comment on various other players.

Kyrgios has nothing but praise for Federer, calling him the greatest of all time and referring to his talent as 'off the charts', saying: 'Everybody wants a little bit of Roger in their game.' He talks about being 'genuinely sad' about Andy Murray's injury troubles and calls Murray's record against Djokovic - which is 25-11 in the Serb's favour - 'embarrassing', saying: 'If I was his coach, he would have won more Grand Slams, for sure.'

Fernando Verdasco, however, Kyrgios terms 'the most arrogant person ever'. The two had a Twitter spat last March when Kyrgios called Verdasco 'the saltiest dude' and said he hoped Verdasco lost to Kyrgios's compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis. Verdasco responded by saying Kyrgios lacked 'courage' for having then deleted the tweet.

In the No Challenges Remaining interview with Rothenberg, Kyrgios claimed that Nadal was 'super salty' whenever he lost to Kyrgios, contrasting the Spaniard's graciousness in victory and eagerness to give credit to his defeated opponents with his behaviour when losing, at least when losing to Kyrgios.

Kyrgios is harshest, however, on Djokovic, calling his trademark celebration 'cringeworthy' and planning to imitate it after his next victory over the world no. 1. While Kyrgios pays tribute to Djokovic as an 'unbelievable' champion of the sport and predicts that the Serb will overtake Federer's Grand Slam total, he also says that Djokovic 'has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked'.

These comments come at a time when Djokovic's last press conference saw him complaining about being treated unfairly by the media in the coverage of the controversy centred around the decision not to renew ATP President & CEO Chris Kermode's contract and the contentious role of Justin Gimelstob, who recently resigned from the ATP Board in the wake of having plead 'no contest' to a violent and unprovoked assault. Djokovic is president of the ATP players' council, which is currently going through the process to fill Gimelstob's vacant seat as a player representative to the ATP Board. 

'I feel that I've been exposed way too much for being president of the council, having that role. You know what I mean? Everyone holds me accountable for everything that happens in tennis at the moment, which I think it's unfair,' Djokovic said on Tuesday during his pre-tournament press conference.

Kyrgios also discussed the incident in which he was censured for having told Stan Wawrinka, during their match in Montreal in 2015, that Kyrgios's friend Kokkinakis had 'banged' Wawrinka's girlfriend. Kyrgios apologized at the time which seems somewhat disingenuous given his evaluation of the incident now: 'I was just competing, it was like normal trash talk. I think it's hilarious.'

Asked if he felt he had crossed a line, Kyrgios said he didn't.

Play was completely washed out at the Rome Masters on Wednesday due to heavy rain. Kyrgios will face qualifier Casper Ruud for a place in the third round on Thursday.

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Kyrgios opens up in podcast interview: 'I do the least amount of work out of the top 100'

In a wide-ranging interview with the No Challenges Remaining podcast, Kyrgios calls himself 'a bit of a genius on court' and blasts fellow players including Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Novak Djokovic: 'He has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked'

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