Nick Kyrgios rejects Novak Djokovic-Michael Jordan comparison as he likens Serb to different sporting icon
Nick Kyrgios has disagreed with fellow pro Richard Gasquet after the Frenchman claimed only basketball icon Michael Jordan was comparable to tennis great Novak Djokovic in terms of longevity.
The Australian star instead likened Djokovic to another NBA legend, LeBron James, and asserted that Jordan “stopped a lot earlier” and “wasn’t as dominant” as James.
Djokovic, who turned 36 in May last year, had one of the most dominant seasons of his staggering career in 2023 as he claimed seven titles from just 12 ATP events.
The Serbian won 56 of his 63 matches across all tournaments (88.9%) and ended the season as world No 1 for a record-extending eighth time. He won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, while he was also a beaten finalist at Wimbledon.
In a recent interview with French publication L’Equipe, Gasquet suggested Djokovic is an anomaly given what he is achieving at his age.
“It’s bound to get worse [with age]. Apart from Djokovic, who wins Grand Slams at almost 37 years old? Have we ever experienced this in sport, apart from perhaps [Michael] Jordan? (Lionel) Messi plays in Miami, the others (footballers) in Saudi Arabia, he is world No 1,” the Frenchman said.
“I can’t explain why a guy like that is so strong at that age. At 37–38 years old, normally, you are much less good than at 25. You know that. At no time did I tell myself that I would play the year I turned 38 (Gasquet will turn 38 in June). Unimaginable.”
In response to a post sharing Gasquet’s quotes on Instagram, 2022 Wimbledon runner-up Kyrgios argued why he feels Djokovic is like James rather than Jordan.
“No, he is LeBron [James]. LeBron is still doing this at 40. [Michael] Jordan stopped a lot earlier. And wasn’t as dominant,” the 28-year-old wrote.
Gasquet, who is currently ranked 131st in the world, also discussed his recent ranking drop amid a difficult run of form.
“It was a bit difficult. I knew it was going to happen one day or another. I didn’t think I would stay in the 100 for so long. I suspected that after Auckland [when his points dropped off from winning the title last year] it would become inevitable,” the 37-year-old said.
“It’s just that you shouldn’t suffer on the court. That’s what will make me stop: physical pain. If I feel I can no longer win a match, or if I’m in pain, if I can no longer arch, no longer make the effort. It’s a bit harder than last year.
“I haven’t had good results in 2024. For three, four, months, I haven’t played very well. There was a little setback, though…[Andy] Murray had it too. You feel like you have a little less legs.
“As long as there is a little spark, I don’t have any particular pressure. When things have to stop, they’ll stop by themselves. The good thing is that I would have given until the end and I have no regrets. I’ve already pushed it this far.”
Gasquet has lost his last nine ATP Tour level matches, with his last win in an elite level event coming in Winston-Salem in August.
The 16-time ATP titlist was beaten in straight sets by world No 102 Roberto Bautista Agut in the opening round of the ATP 250 tournament in Marseille on Tuesday.
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