How Wimbledon finalists Djokovic and Krygios went from name-dropping bitter enemies to unlikely battle over CovidEntertainment 

How Wimbledon finalists Djokovic and Krygios went from name-dropping bitter enemies to unlikely battle over Covid

IT’S the most unlikely sporting bromance – a strange friendship that will be pushed and stretched to its limits on Sunday.

Maverick Nick Kyrgios and series champion Novak Djokovic are unnatural bedfellows, especially as they’ve spent the past few years teasing each other in the press.

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Novak Djokovic is aiming for his seventh Wimbledon title and his fourth in a rowCredit: Getty
Nick Kyrgios is the man standing in his way with the Australian yet to appear in a major final

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Nick Kyrgios is the man standing in his way with the Australian yet to appear in a major finalCredit: Getty
The pair have only met twice before, with the Serb losing both times

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The pair have only met twice before, with the Serb losing both timesCredit: Getty

Most of the verbal volleys came from the mouth of the Australian, who once branded the “cramp-worthy” Serb a “tool” over his Covid demands and had a “morbid obsession with wanting to be liked”.

In return, Djokovic said he doesn’t have “a lot of respect” for the outspoken Aussie off the tennis courts.

And yet they formed a surprising alliance during Djokovic’s controversial deportation from Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open in January.

Kyrgios was one of the few to stand up for Djokovic in his moment of crisis when he was sent on a plane back home due to his unvaccinated status.

Kyrgios, 27, laughed: “We definitely have a bit of a bromance now, which is weird.

“Everyone knows there was no love lost there for a while. It was healthy for the sport.

“Every time we played together, there was a lot of hype around it. It was interesting for the media, for the people watching.

“I felt like I was almost the only type of player and someone who stood up for him in that drama at the Australian Open.

Jelena will cheer for her man

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Jelena will cheer for her manCredit: Getty
Costeen Hatzi will be in Kyrgios's corner

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Costeen Hatzi will be in Kyrgios’s cornerCredit: Paul Edwards

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“I feel like that’s where respect is earned. Not on the tennis court. But when a real life crisis occurs and someone stands up for you.

“Now we actually DM each other on Instagram. It’s really weird.

“He actually said at the beginning of the week, ‘I hope to see you on Sunday…'”

Djokovic played down the “bromance” but acknowledged that they “definitely have a better relationship than it probably was before this January.”

And on the eve of the final, he shared a post on his Instagram story after Kyrgios asked: “Are we friends now?”

Djokovic replied: “If you invite me for drinks or dinner, I accept. PS Winner pays tomorrow.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said: “When things were really tough for me in Australia, he was one of the few players who came out publicly and supported me.

“That’s something I really appreciate. So I respect him a lot for that.”

Djokovic is, of course, the overwhelming favorite to win a fourth Wimbledon title in a row – only Bjorn Borg, Peter Sampras and Roger Federer have done that in consecutive Open Eras.

However, Kyrgios had won two previous matches – in Acapulco and Indian Wells in 2017 – and given his penchant for rampaging and raging, he could easily wear down both opponents and the crowd.

The world No.40 told the media last week that if she wins her first Slam, don’t expect her to follow in the footsteps of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

He said: “I don’t think me or the other guys are capable of filling those shoes.

“We will never see a competitor like Rafa again.

“You’ll never see someone handle a racket like Roger, so effortlessly.

The pair exchanged jokes on Instagram

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The pair exchanged jokes on InstagramCredit: Instagram @djokernole / @k1ngkyrg1os
Djokovic took a cheeky look at Kyrgios' practice on Saturday

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Djokovic took a cheeky look at Kyrgios’ practice on SaturdayCredit: Reuters

“You’re probably never going to see anybody just winning and playing the game more than Djokovic.

“If I ever get to lift a Grand Slam trophy, please don’t put pressure on me to do another one.”

“It will be a sad day when they leave. As humans, we take for granted how good athletes are sometimes. Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, those guys are so rare.”

It will be interesting to see if this newfound respect continues with so much on the line on a hot afternoon.

For Djokovic, who will be cheered on by his wife Jelena, it could be his last major appearance before Roland Garros in 2023 – he cannot play in the US and is banned from Australia due to his lack of vaccinations.

For Kyrgios, who will have girlfriend Costeen Hatzi in his corner, this could be his only shot at glory, his only chance to shoot down critics who say he is squandering his God-given abilities.

Djokovic, 35, added: “These are the occasions that Nick loves, where he thrives, on the big stage.

“Honestly, as a tennis fan, I’m glad he’s in the final because he has so much talent.

“On and off the court, a lot of different things that distracted him and he wasn’t able to get that consistency.

“For the quality player he is, that’s where he needs to be and deserves to be.”

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