Novak Djokovic has ‘sick obsession’ to be like Roger Federer: rival

A brutally honest Nick Kyrgios unloaded on tennis greats Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in a raw interview.

Speaking to tennis writer Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times for the “No Challenges Remaining” podcast, the Aussie star blasted Nadal for having double-standards and roasted Djokovic over his “sick obsession” with wanting to be liked.

The bad blood between Kyrgios and Nadal was exposed at this year’s Mexico Open when the Australian knocked the Spaniard out of the tournament courtesy of a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 win in the round of 16. He caught Nadal off-guard with an underarm serve, complained about the 32-year-old’s go-slow tactics and after the controversial match Nadal accused Kyrgios of lacking respect for his opponent and the crowd.

Kyrgios won’t be building any bridges between the pair, complaining that Nadal’s character changes depending on whether results go his way — before bringing his family into the mix.

“He’s my polar opposite, like literally my polar opposite. And he’s super salty,” Kyrgios said.

“When he wins, it’s fine. He won’t say anything bad, he’ll credit the opponent, ‘He was a great player.’ But as soon as I beat him, it’s just like, ‘He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? I literally played this way when I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed, nothing changed.’

“It’s not a good look for you, I feel. And then [Nadal’s former coach] Uncle Toni came out saying, ‘He lacks education.’ I’m like, ‘Bra, I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I’m very educated. I understand that you’re upset I beat your family again.’ Rafa gets me vexed.”

Not content with taking down one living legend, Kyrgios took aim at a second as he tore into Djokovic for his “cringe-worthy” celebration where he gestures to the crowd with his arms after a win, signaling the love he has for his fans.

Kyrgios also said Djokovic prefers to say and do whatever will make people like him more rather than be himself.

“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger [Federer],” Kyrgios said. “For me personally — I don’t care right now, I’ve come this far — I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him.

“This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it’s like so cringe-worthy. It’s very cringe-worthy. The celebration just kills me. Every time he does the celebration it just kills me. Honestly, that’s what I’m doing next time: If I play him and beat him, I’m doing his celebration, in front of him. That would be hilarious, right?

“Djokovic, again, just rubs me the wrong way. He always says what feels like he needs to say, never speaks his opinion.”

Kyrgios praised the Serbian as an “unbelievable player” and “champion of the sport” but doesn’t believe he should be held in higher regard than Federer, even if he ends up winning more majors.

“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 for me,” Kyrgios said.

“Simply because, I’ve played him twice (Kyrgios has won both times) and like, I’m sorry, but if you can’t beat me, you’re not the greatest of all time. Because if you like look at my day-to-day routine and how much I train and how much I put in, it’s zero compared to him.”

And it wasn’t just grand slam winners Kyrgios was having a crack at. As much as Nadal and Djokovic irk him, Fernando Verdasco tops the list of players the 24-year-old would least like to have dinner with.

“Verdasco drives me nuts, man. That guy … I don’t even want to talk about it,” Kyrgios said. “It gets me so vexed, I’m like angry now that I just hear that name. He’s the most arrogant person ever. He doesn’t say hello, he thinks he’s so good, he thinks he’s God’s gift. Dude, your backhand’s pretty average and let’s be honest, you hit a ball over a net.

“Guy’s like that, they drive me insane. There’s no humility there, there’s no perspective, it’s just like, ‘I’m here, I’m so cool, I’m unbelievable because I hit a ball over the net. Do this for me, do this for me, I won’t say hello to you, I’m too important.’

“Guys like that. See how angry I’m getting? It kills me. He just rubs me the wrong way.”

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