A Guide To The Rocky Relationship Between Novak Djokovic And Nick Kyrgios - UBITENNIS
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A Guide To The Rocky Relationship Between Novak Djokovic And Nick Kyrgios

This is what the players are saying about each other now and this what they have said about each other in the past.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic says his relationship with Nick Kyrgios has improved in recent months but stops short of agreeing with the Australian that the two are forming a bromance. 

 

The two tennis stars will clash for the Wimbledon title on Sunday. Djokovic saw off Britain’s Cameron Norrie in four sets and Nick Kyrgios received a walkover due to Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal. It will be the first time the two have played each other on the Tour since 2017. The year where Kyrgios won both of their encounters in straight sets. 

“I haven’t practiced with him or played with him since the last time I lost to him,” Djokovic told reporters on Friday evening. 

“On grass, I would assume it’s even tougher to read his serve and to return because he has so many free points. You could see that throughout this tournament, as well. He just puts additional pressure on your serve. He moves well. He’s got great hands. A very complete player.”

Publicly both players have said they have formed greater respect for each other during what has been a roller-coaster relationship between the two. Kyrgios once said that the Serbian had a ‘sick obsession‘ with being liked, his post-match celebration was ‘cringeworthy’ and branded him a ‘tool’ last year when it was reported he had requested for an easing of covid-19 restrictions for players at the Australian Open. In return, Djokovic had previously said that he ‘doesn’t have much respect’ for the Australian off the court. 

However, a change in their relationship began in January when Djokovic was involved in a high-profile legal battle with Australian authorities over the legitimacy of his visa due to being unvaccinated against covid. Kyrgios was one of the few players to speak out in support of the former world No.1. The world No.42 says a ‘bromance’ has formed between the two but the 20-time Grand Slam winner isn’t too sure.

“I don’t know if I can call it a bromance yet, but we have a better relationship than what it was probably prior to January this year,” he commented.

“But when it was really tough for me in Australia, he was one of the very few players that came out publicly and supported me and stood by me. That’s something I truly appreciate. So I respect him for that a lot.”

The fact that Kyrgios has reached his first Grand Slam final at the age of 27 is something his rival believes is a positive for the sport. He has endured a roller-coaster career where at times he contemplated walking away from the sport permanently. Furthermore, Kyrgios can be a controversial character due to his on-court antics at times. He has already been fined $14,000 at Wimbledon for unsportsmanlike conduct. 

“It seems like mentally he’s at a better state than what he was some years ago,” said Djokovic.

“As time passes by, you’re maturing, you’re understanding yourself what you need to do to get yourself to the best possible, optimal state of mind, body, and soul in order to perform your best.”

Of course, with a Wimbledon title on the line, you can expect this mutual respect to be put on ice when they play against each other. It will also be curious to see how Djokovic reacts should his opponent start his unorthodox behavior such as arguing with the line officials and so on. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was knocked out of the tournament by Kyrgios, has gone as far as accusing him of bullying. An allegation he denies. 

“I guess it’s going to be a game of small margins. I hope I can be at the desired level, then really it’s a mental game in the end, who stays tougher and calmer in the decisive moments.” He concludes. 

The two tennis titans appear to be getting on well but in the past that was far from the case…..

The Djokovic-Kyrgios feud in quotes

“I just feel like he [Djokovic] has a sick obsession, wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger [Federer]. He just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him. This whole celebration thing (blowing kisses to the crowd) that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy.”

Nick Kyrgios – No challenges Remaining podcast 2019 (NOTE: Djokovic said ‘he wasn’t losing sleep’ in response to that comment)

 “What can I say to Nick Kyrgios. I think he’s not really a bad guy. I do not know why he declares all these things, whether he wants to draw attention or some motive is different.”

Djokovic to Sportklub in June 2019

Djokovic was playing Federer in the Wimbledon final that day

“It’s bad because I don’t think Novak did anything wrong to him. He decides to pick on Novak for no reason. You can come on the court and do whatever you want, but you need to respect your opponent.”

Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic to The Telegraph in 2019

‘I think you are better than Djokovic. Djokovic was playing dodgeball on my serve and you were slapping it for a winner. He was trying to dodge it, you were on it like a light.’

Kyrgios to Andy Murray during an Instagram Live session after he has ‘six glasses of wine.’ 

“Prayers up to all the players that have contracted COVID-19. Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake.”

Kyrgios commented on players dancing at a party during the Adria Tour. An event founded by Djokovic that took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“No matter how many majors Novak wins, he will never be the greatest to me. I played against him twice, and if he can’t beat me, you are not the greatest of all time.”

Kyrgios to the Herald Sun in January 2021

“Off the court, I don’t have much respect for him, to be honest. That’s where I’ll close it. I really don’t have any further comments for him, his own comments for me or anything else he’s trying to do.”

Djokovic during the 2021 Australian Open

ATP

ATP Montreal: Ruud Thrashes Auger-Aliassime To Reach Semis, Mixed Results For Brits

Casper Ruud eased past Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a semi-final meeting with Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal.

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Casper Ruud (@OBNmontreal - Twitter)

Casper Ruud only dropped three games against Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the semi-finals in Montreal.

 

The Norwegian is into the semi-finals in Canada after a dominant performance over home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Ruud dominated from the start of the match as he produced a sublime performance only committing nine unforced errors throughout the match to reach the last four.

Ruud has had a good season on hard courts this season and is looking to make his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 final after reaching the final in Miami.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted he got a bit lucky but is happy to be in the last four in Canada, “It was one of those days where everything goes in one favour and luckily it was in my favour,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“With a player like Felix, you need to rely on some margins going your way. I didn’t expect them to all go on my side. It was a bit of a difficult start. I got broken but then was able to turn everything around. I hit my spots, made the shots I needed to and make him hit a lot of balls. That was the game plan and it worked well.

“The last hard-court tournament I played in was in Miami where I reached the final. I wanted to make a deep run here. I didn’t think it was too likely, being the first hard-court tournament back, but I have been playing great from the first point in the first match.”

Ruud will look to claim his first Masters 1000 title this week and rise to four in the world in the ATP rankings.

Next for Ruud is the only Masters 1000 champion left in the draw in the form of Hubert Hurkacz.

Hurkacz defeated the in-form Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Canada.

The eighth seed produced some big-serving and bold decision making as he reached his first semi-final since winning the Halle title.

Heading into their match, Ruud leads the head-to-head 1-0 where the Norwegian was victorious at Roland Garros this year.

Mixed results for British hopefuls

Meanwhile it was a mixed night for British players as Dan Evans reached his second career Masters 1000 semi-final while Jack Draper exited the tournament in the last eight.

Evans defeated Tommy Paul 1-6 6-3 6-4 to reach a landmark moment in his career in Montreal.

After his win Evans described the win as ‘extra special’ as he looks forward to a semi-final meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta, “The crowd, that’s what they buy their tickets for. That’s live sport,” Evans told the ATP website.

“You never know what’s going to happen. It was an amazing match, amazing atmosphere. I played on the court before. In the day it was amazing, but at night, there’s something about playing sport at night, it’s extra special.”

Evans will now play Carreno Busta in the last four after the Spaniard defeated British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6(4) 6-1.

Draper defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the week but was no match for the resilient Spaniard.

Saturday’s semi-final will be the first meeting between Evans and Carreno Busta.

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ATP

Canada Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday Features Ruud/Hurkacz and Pegula/Halep

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Simona Halep on Friday in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The singles and doubles semifinals will be played on Saturday in Canada.  In Montreal, a new men’s singles champion will be crowned, and Hubi Hurkacz is the only semifinalist to have previously won a Masters 1000 event (Miami, 2021).  Hurkacz is also in the doubles semifinals, so it will be a busy day for Hubi.  In singles, he faces a finalist from this year in Miami, Casper Ruud.

 

In Toronto, Simona Halep is the only former champion remaining, and is two wins away from her third title at this event.  On Saturday, she plays Jessica Pegula, who is into the semifinals in Canada for the second straight year.  Like Hurkacz, Pegula is also in the doubles semifinals.  She’s teaming with Coco Gauff, who will become the new doubles No.1 if they win the title.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Hurkacz ended the winning streak of Nick Kyrgios on Friday, taking him out in three sets for the second time this season.  But Ruud was even more impressive on Friday, bouncing back from a marathon victory on Thursday over Roberto Bautista Agut to overwhelm Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, dropping only three games.  Predominantly known as a clay court player, Casper is also establishing himself as a considerable threat on hard courts.  That’s especially true in North America, where Ruud has claimed 16 of his last 19 matches.  But Hubi’s success on this surface remains superior, as does his serving prowess.  While Ruud prevailed in their only previous encounter, just a few months ago at Roland Garros, Hurkacz is the favorite on a hard court.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Halep has been dominant through four rounds this week, advancing without the loss of a set.  Simona has quietly put together a strong record of 36-10 this season, though she’s yet to achieve a big result, with only one title at the 250 level at the start of the year.  Pegula only dropped one set this week, to defending champion Camila Giorgi.  And similar to Halep, she’s accumulated a solid record this year (29-14) without winning a title.  This will be the first career meeting between these two players.  Considering Halep is now 25-6 lifetime at this event, and the way in which she has easily prevailed all week, her superior movement and defense should be enough to reach her fourth final in Canada.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Dan Evans – Carreno Busta has played superbly this week, eliminating the likes of Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini without losing a set to this stage.  Dan Evans has survived two grueling three-setters in as many days.  This is their first career meeting.

Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Haddad Maia has earned three big wins across the last three days over Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic, and Leylah Fernandez.  Pliskova is looking to reach the Canada final for the second straight year.  They have split two previous encounters, both on hard courts.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Canada Daily Preview: Quarterfinal Friday in Montreal and Toronto

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Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

Canadian No.1 Felix Auger-Aliassime has thrilled crowds in his home country on back-to-back days in Montreal.  On Friday, he faces Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud, who outlasted Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday in a marathon match that went well over three hours.  Other ATP action in Montreal includes Washington champion Nick Kyrgios taking on Halle champ Hubi Hurkacz in a rematch from the Halle semifinals.

 

Coco Gauff has survived two extremely dramatic affairs in as many days, ousting both Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka in third-set tiebreaks.  In the quarterfinals, she plays a two-time champion of this event, Simona Halep.  Toronto’s matches on Friday also feature Jessica Pegula and Karolina Pliskova, both of whom reached the semifinals or better of this tournament a year ago.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Friday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Coco Gauff (10) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Between Wednesday and Thursday, Gauff spent exactly six hours on court during the heat of the early afternoon, in two physically and emotionally taxing matches.  By contrast, Halep spent less than half that time on court across those two days, and is yet to drop a set this week.  And their three previous encounters have all been straight-set victories for Simona.  She prevailed on grass three years ago at Wimbledon, on a hard court this year at Indian Wells, and on clay this year in Madrid.  And considering Halep will be the far fresher player on Friday, there’s not much evidence to suggest a different result in her fourth meeting with Coco.


Casper Ruud (4) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) – Not Before 2:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

What will Ruud have left after a three-set match that lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours?  Auger-Aliassime had a much easier time on Thursday, avenging a loss from less than a week ago in the Los Cabos semifinals over Cam Norrie.  Casper and Felix have split four previous meetings at all levels: two at Challenger events, and two at Masters 1000 events such as this.  Three years ago in Miami on a hard court, Auger-Aliassime won in three sets.  Last year in Madrid on clay, Ruud prevailed in straights.  Accordingly, a hard court would seem to favor Felix, especially considering his superior serving abilities.  Most of Casper’s big results have come on clay, though he did reach the final of Miami earlier this year.  I expected the Canadian to play nervously at this event, as Auger-Aliassime was only 3-3 lifetime here ahead of this week, and had lost four of his last six matches since June.  But Felix has embraced the spotlight of playing in front of a packed Canadian stadium, and should be favored over a depleted Ruud on Friday.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Nick Kyrgios vs. Hubert Hurkacz (8) – Between singles and doubles, Kyrgios is 13-0 over the last 10 days.  Hurkacz saved a match point on Thursday, eventually defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a third-set tiebreak.  Earlier this year in Halle when he played Nick, Hubi also prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.

Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Qinwen Zheng – Both players were victorious after tough three-setters on Thursday: Pliskova over Maria Sakkari and Qinwen over Bianca Andreescu.  This is their first career meeting.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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