Novak Djokovic compared with Nick Kyrgios as legend explains why Serb is ‘the best’

Ewan West
2022 Wimbledon final Novak Djokovic vs Nick Kyrgios
Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios

Tennis great Jimmy Connors has asserted that Novak Djokovic is “the best” because the Serb’s concentration and focus mean “nothing gets in his way.”

The eight-time Grand Slam champion contrasted the mindset of Djokovic with Nick Kyrgios, who he feels “lets his mind wander to other things.”

Djokovic downed world No 3 Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the final of the 2023 US Open last month to win a fourth title at the New York Major in a record 10th final appearance. The Serbian legend has now secured a men’s record 24 Grand Slam crowns.

The world No 1 claimed three of the four Grand Slam tournaments this year, while he lost in five sets to Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final. The Serbian has now won 12 Majors in his 30s and has a 12-3 record in Grand Slam finals since turning 30.

The 36-year-old overcame Kyrgios in four sets in an entertaining 2022 Wimbledon, having lost his previous two encounters with the 28-year-old Australian.

On an episode of the Advantage Connors podcast, Connors explained why he feels Djokovic’s mentality sets him apart, while identifying Kyrgios’s lack of total focus on tennis as something that has held him back.

“If you’re gonna be the best, you see Novak Djokovic, nothing gets in his way. He doesn’t wanna play basketball, he concentrates and focuses really just on his tennis and winning. Nick lets his mind wander to other things too,” the American said.

“And if you’re gonna be the best, I would think there are some guys that are different. Maybe Kyrgios is one of those guys, but putting all your energies into being the best is important.

“Maybe he’s satisfied with success and what he’s done in his abilities and everything that he has going for him right now. I’m not criticizing, I’m just carrying on the conversation about what his abilities are and where he thinks he should be and could be.”

Following an impressive 2022 season, Kyrgios has been sidelined through injury this year and played his only competitive match of the campaign in Stuttgart in June.

After a charity exhibition between Kyrgios and Djokovic in January, the Aussie discussed his relationship with each of the ‘Big Three’ in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I think my relationship with the ‘Big Three’ is all different. I’m really close with Novak now. [I’m] quite close with Roger [Federer]. And me and Rafa [Nadal] – we just [nod] when we walk past each other,” explained the former world No 13.

“(On negative comments he made about Djokovic earlier in his career) I don’t really regret anything – I think life is too short to regret. You kind of learn from these experiences. They are all kinds of building blocks

“At the same time, I think it’s made our relationship even more special, now it’s gone from a rough sort of place to – we’re helping each other out on the biggest stage. To think I’m able to do that with one of the greatest of all-time is cool.”

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