“My First Love Was Basketball”: Nick Kyrgios Says He Doesn’t Love Tennis Like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic

Published 07/03/2021, 4:37 AM EDT
Rafael Nadal of Spain shakes hands at the net with Nick Kyrgios of Australia after their Men’s Singles second round match during Day four of The Championships – Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 04, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)


Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has revealed why he believes he is in the latter stages of his career despite being only 26.

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During a press conference ahead of his third-round battle with Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, Kyrgios was reminded of a recent interview where he had said that he is in the twilight of his career and might not be around for too long.

Upon being asked why he thinks he is in the latter stages of his career when Roger Federer is still going strong just shy of 40 and his Big 3 peers Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are peaking at their mid-thirties, Kyrgios said he perhaps doesn’t love the sport as much as the “legends” do.

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He added that while the Big 3 are simply obsessed with tennis and cannot imagine their lives outside of the game, his “first love” had always been basketball.

Nick Kyrgios says he wasn’t able to chase his basketball dream

“I definitely don’t love the sport as those legends do. I feel like Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, they wouldn’t be able to live without tennis. That’s like their first love. For me, my first love was basketball, and I wasn’t able to chase that dream,” the maverick Aussie said.

Currently ranked 60th in singles, the Aussie said he doesn’t wake up in the morning with the thought of straining his guts on a practice court and improving his tennis.

He said unlike the Big 3, it’s a thought that doesn’t come naturally to him.

Roger Federer of Team Europe and Nick Kyrgios of Team World poses for photo during Day 2 of the Laver Cup 2019 at Palexpo on September 21, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Laver Cup will see six players from the rest of the World competing against their counterparts from Europe. Team World is captained by John McEnroe and Team Europe is captained by Bjorn Borg. The tournament runs from September 20-22. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)

“I definitely don’t have that waking up every day, coming so easily like wanting to get better, what would I like to do today, every time I step on court, like looking to improve. I don’t have that, (it) doesn’t come as easily to me,” Kyrgios said.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic didn’t reach same heights as he did early in their careers: Kyrgios

The burly Australian from Canberra added that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic probably didn’t reach the same heights as he did in the initial stages of their careers and, hence, feel that they have more to achieve in the sport.

Watch This Story: Wimbledon Championship 2021 Funny Interviews: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray, Venus Williams

He said the pressure of dealing with early success and expectations hasn’t pushed him close to retirement but has corroded the love he had for the sport starting out.

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“I don’t think they dealt with such, especially earlier on, such height in their career, which for me, I wouldn’t say has driven me out of the game but it’s just like put a massive chip on my shoulder,” Kyrgios said.

DIVE DEEPER

“Ok With Not Winning Grand Slams”: Nick Kyrgios Reflects on Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic’s Success

about 1 month ago

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The Aussie opened his All England campaign with an epic five-set win over Frenchman Ugo Humbert and followed it up with a takedown of Italian Gianluca Mager in straight sets to reach the third round.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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