What was tennis’ biggest feud is now a blossoming “bromance”.
Novak Djokovic might have ended Nick Kyrgios’ dreams of being Australia’s first Wimbledon champion in two decades, but the Serbian star showered his fierce rival in praise following their four-set final on Sunday.
For years the duo had fired shots about each other’s character.
Kyrgios didn’t mince his words during an interview on the No Challenges Remaining podcast, where the Australian hit out at the Serbian.
“No matter how many grand slam titles he wins, he will never be the greatest simply because I’ve played him twice and, I’m sorry, if you can’t beat me, like, you’re not the greatest of all time,” Kyrgios said.
“Djokovic, I don’t know, again, he just riles me the wrong way. Always says what he feels like he needs to say, never speaks his opinion.”
Later, Kyrgios would describe Kyrgios a “bonehead” following his decision to play an exhibition tournament during the early stages of the Covid pandemic and in 2021 a “tool” ahead of the Australian Open.
But after coming to the defence of Djokovic during this year’s Australian Open, where the tennis great was deported by Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, the duo broke bread and have since made peace.
On tennis’ biggest stage, their rising respect was on display as Djokovic spoke glowingly of Kyrgios and said he was pleased to see the Australian starting to fulfil his potential.
“Nick, you’ll be back. Not just at Wimbledon, but in finals,” he said, having heard Kyrgios downplay his chances moving forward.
“It’s tough to find consolation words after a tough loss like this but you showed why you deserve to be one of the best players in the world, particularly on this surface. Congrats to you and your team for an amazing tournament.
“I wish you all the best. I really respect you a lot. I think you’re a phenomenal tennis player and athlete and an amazing talent – you’ve been hearing that for many years but now everything is starting to come together, so I’m sure we’re going to see more of you at the later stages of a grand slam.
“And I never thought I was going to say so many nice things about you considering the relationship. OK, it’s officially a bromance.”
With that Centre Court burst into laughter, with the public feud playing out in public for years.
Asked about a potential duo between the former arch-enemies, Djokovic said Kyrgios lost so he wouldn’t have to pay for the meal.
“I don’t know if we’re going to make it happen tonight or another night, but hopefully this is the start of a wonderful relationship between the two of us – off the court as well,” he said.
Earlier, Kyrgios had left the crowd in stitches with his eccentric behaviour.
He, too, praised Djokovic’s tennis ability before thanking tournament officials and his team.
“Yeah, yeah, he’s (Djokovic) a bit of a God,” Kyrgios said. “I thought I played well.
“First of all I want to congratulate Novak and his team. You’ve won this Championship I don’t even know how many times anymore.
“Then, obviously, to all the boy kids, the umpires, you and I have a very tough relationship at times but I thought I’d thank you for putting up with it.
“And the crowd, it’s been an amazing couple of weeks.”