Tennis: Nick Kyrgios criticises opponents before Italian Open outburst

Australian tennis brat Nick Kyrgios has unleashed a volley of criticism against some of the game's most respected professionals in an explosive interview.

Speaking to tennis writer Ben Rothenberg on the 'No Challenges Remaining' podcast, Kyrgios branded Rafael Nadal "super salty" and called Novak Djokovic "cringeworthy".

The episode was published on Thursday (NZ time), but surfaced hours before his second-round match against Caspar Rudd at the Italian Open, where he was defaulted, after kicking a bottle and hurling a chair onto the court.

The podcast episode has more than 67,000 downloads on the official website.

"He's my polar opposite, literally my polar opposite," Kyrgios said of Spaniard Nadal. "And he's super salty.

"When he wins, it's fine, he won't say anything bad. He'll credit the opponent - 'he competed well today, he's a great player' - but then as soon as I beat him, it's just like 'he has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game'.

"I'm like 'what are you talking about? I played this way that I beat you the other previous times and nothing has changed'.

"It's not a good look and then Uncle Toni [Nadal's coach] came out saying 'he lacks education'. I'm like 'I did 12 years at school, you idiot, I'm very educated.

"'I understand that you're upset. I beat your family again'."

Of Serbian Djokovic, Kyrgios was equally critical, but for different reasons.

"I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger.

"I don't care right now, I've come this far, I feel like he wants to be liked so much that I can't stand him.

"This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it's, like, so cringeworthy. It's very cringeworthy.

"But he is a champion of the sport, one of the greatest you'll see.

Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic. Photo credit: AAP

"Djokovic just rubs me the wrong way, always says what he feels like he needs to say and never speaks his opinion."

But Kyrgios saved his best serve for Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco.

"Verdasco drives me nuts, man. That guy... I don't even want to talk about it.

"It gets me so vexed, I get angry when I 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.

"Guys 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."

Surprisingly, Kyrgios did have some positive words for Scotland's Andy Murray.

"I feel like his record against Djokovic is embarrassing, I've told him. I just feel like he's so much better than Novak.

"I've played them both and I feel like Andy Murray returns better, he's harder to play against, I feel like his serve's better.

"I've told him 'you should have won so many more Grand Slams'.

"With Murray, he would have ticked all the boxes. It's just sad, it sucks not seeing him around here.

"In the locker room he was the best, always having 'bants' and everybody was super friendly with him. He also had an opinion of some people too and he wasn't afraid to say things as well, which I liked.

"He was just a lot of fun and I think the sport lost a good one there."


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