Legend likens Nick Kyrgios to ‘crazy’ player who ‘should have been the GOAT’
Tennis great Jimmy Connors has compared maverick star Nick Kyrgios to his former rival Ilie Nastase and feels the Australian “has the ability to be on that level.”
The former world No 1 feels Nastase was “a little bit more crazy” than Kyrgios and argued the gifted and volatile Romanian “should have been the best of all time.”
Connors faced Nastase 27 times between 1971 and 1984 in matches recognised by the ATP, with Nastase holding a 15-12 edge. Nastase, who won 64 singles titles before retiring in 1985, was both renowned for his remarkable talent and infamous for erratic temperament and antics.
The Romanian won the US Open in 1972 and the French Open in 1973 and reached No 1 in the ATP Rankings during the latter year. He was also a runner-up at Wimbledon in 1972 and 1976 and was a four-time champion at the Tour Finals.
Kyrgios has also been known for both his great ability and controversial behaviour throughout his career and has been labelled a ‘bad boy’ in some quarters. The 28-year-old, who has been ranked as high as world No 13, has won seven ATP titles and reached the final of Wimbledon last year.
Speaking on an episode of the Advantage Connors podcast, eight-time Grand Slam champion Connors likened Kyrgios to his contemporary Nastase, who he had high praise for.
“Kyrgios has the talent also and we’ve talked about a lot that if he could get that under control and he could figure out a way for it to work for him, as opposed to against him, and get on the winning trail, oh my god, how good would he be for the game. Just as Nastase was great for the game,” said the American.
“You can’t do that if you are not winning, even though he’s trying. He’s trying to get it, but for me right now, I would probably pick Nastase [over Kyrgios] with the understanding that Kyrgios has the ability to be on that level if he would let it work for him.
“‘Nasti’ might have been a little bit more crazy. He won more. To me, Nastase should have been the best of all time. He was that talented, that good, that fast and his anticipation was beyond. Nastase won the US Open, he won the French, he was in the finals of Wimbledon. He had great success with many tournaments.
Following an excellent 2022 season, Kyrgios has been sidelined through injury this year and played his only competitive match of the campaign in Stuttgart in June.
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