Nick Kyrgios has launched a remarkable volley of insults at some of the leading players in men’s tennis ahead of the 2019 French Open draw, making last year’s verbal spats with Bernard Tomic look benign in comparison.
Kyrgios used a podcast at the Rome Masters as the platform to reveal his disdain for Novak Djokovic’s “cringeworthy” post-match celebrations and Rafael Nadal’s “super salty” double standards.
But he saved his best serve for Fernando Verdasco after a series of run-ins with the Spanish veteran both on the court and on social media over the years.
“Verdasco drives me nuts, man. That guy … I don’t even want to talk about it,” Kyrgios told American freelance tennis writer Ben Rothenberg on the “No Challenges Remaining” podcast.
“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.”
Nor can Kyrgios take much of Djokovic.
“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger (Federer),” the Australian 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 (blowing kisses to the crowd) that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy.
“He’s an unbelievable player, he’s a champion of the sport; one of the greatest we’ll ever see. He probably will, honestly, I reckon he will get the grand slam count, I reckon he will overpass 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 for me.
“Simply because, I’ve played him twice 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.”
There’s also bound to be no love lost if Kyrgios runs into 11-times French Open champion Nadal in Paris.
“Hmm, this is dangerous,” Kyrgios said.
“He’s my polar opposite, like literally my polar opposite. And he’s super salty.
“Every time I’ve beaten him … 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 … When you beat me in Rome here a couple of years ago, nothing changed; I was the same person’.
“It’s not a good look for you, I feel. And then Uncle Toni (Nadal) 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’.”
Kyrgios also called fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis his “brother”, said Federer was the undisputed G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time), and spoke fondly about Andy Murray.
The French Open begins 26 May, with Nadal and Djokovic seeded first and second, meaning an early clash with the unseeded Kyrgios could be on the cards.