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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, October 27, 2020

 
Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios pays rival Rafael Nadal deep respect for his record-setting run in Paris and weighs in with his view of the GOAT.

Photo credit: Getty

Nick Kyrgios has razzed Rafa Nadal before, but shows total respect for the Spaniard’s “ridiculous” record run in Paris.

Nadal demolished Novak Djokovic in the French Open final capturing his 13th career Roland Garros crown and matching Roger Federer’s all-time men’s major mark collecting his 20th Grand Slam crown.

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The king of chaos says the king of clay has a strong case as Greatest Of All Time, though Kyrgios still rates Federer as the true GOAT.

“Unbelievable. I wasn’t surprised when I saw Rafa pretty much easing through the draw at the French Open,” Kyrgios told Corey “Homicide” Williams on his Court Side Huddle. “That’s his backyard. He loves playing there. I think he’s lost two matches there in his entire career.

“Honestly, I don’t think we’re ever going to see anything like that again. Someone so dominant on one surface and he’s right there with the greatest of all time. You can argue he is the greatest.”




In January, the top-seeded Nadal smacked 64 winners—14 more than the big-serving Aussie—in a dynamic 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4) conquest of Kyrgios charging into his 12th Australian Open quarterfinal in stirring style.



Kyrgios concedes Nadal is the best of this time, but asserts Federer is the best of all time.

The 44th-ranked Kyrgios, who has wins over each of the Big 3, says he still regards Federer as the GOAT for two primary reasons:

  1. The 39-year-old Swiss superstar elevated the status of the sport worldwide as Michael Jordan inspired basketball to global popularity.
  2. Federer’s all-court style and ability to excel on all surfaces makes him special, says Kyrgios.

“In my opinion, I’ve played all three of them, I think Andy Murray is right up there as well,” Kyrgios said. “You look at Federer he’s the most dominant player of all time, but in this era it’s actually Rafa [who is most dominant]. It’s a debate you can have.

“A lot of players will tell you Rafa’s the GOAT, Novak’s the GOAT. But in my opinion, Federer is still [the GOAT]. I think he’s almost like a [Michael] Jordan status type thing. He was the guy that was so dominant on every kind of surface. I think the way he plays the game is something special.”

Testy clashes in a ferocious Nadal-Kyrgios rivalry have come on major stages.

The temperamental Aussie admitted he tried drilling Nadal "square in the chest" during his second-round Wimbledon loss in 2019. At the Australian Open in January, Kyrgios mocked Nadal's pre-serve ritual by picking at the seat of his shorts.



Still, Nadal who called Kyrgios’ body blow attempt “dangerous” at Wimbledon has said when Kyrgios is committed and playing with positive energy, he's an asset to the sport—and a player the king of clay enjoys watching.

"I am never against his way or style to play," Nadal said. "When I criticize him in the past is because I think he did a couple of things that are not right and are not the right image for our sport and for the kids. But when he's doing the right things, I am the first one who support this.

"Personally I saw him playing during the whole [2020 Australian Open] almost every match, and he has been great, with very positive attitude.

"Personally, I like to watch him play when he's doing that way. I think everybody likes to watch Nick plays when he's able to play like this. His talent is to be one of the best of the world, without a doubt, with good chances to fight for every tournament.”

Kyrgios says intensity has fueled his rivalry with Nadal and believes the Spaniard has solidified his status as GOAT or co-GOAT with Federer.

“But Rafa is something special there," Kyrgios said. "I’m very different and we’ve had our differences when we’ve played each other.

"We’re competitors and we’re going to go at each other. At the same time, I’m not going to take anything away from him.”

 

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