World No. 7, Alexander Zverev has aimed a dig at Nick Kyrgios, playing down the Aussie's chances of winning the 2020 Australian Open.
Australia’s hopes of a home champion in Melbourne will again rest squarely on Kyrgios’s shoulders, following the injury-enforced withdrawal of the country’s No. 1 player, Alex De Minaur.
However, Zverev doesn’t believe Kyrgios can win the Australian Open, arguing that the world No. 26 lacks the consistency required to go all the way in a major.
“There’s a lot of young guys that are right now, no offence, just better than him,” Zverev said.
“I think Stefanos [Tsitsipas] is better than him. Just simply because he is better over five sets and that’s what you need as well”.
“This is not a three-set match where you can win in an hour-and-20 (minutes) and get off the court”, Zverev said.
“To beat the best, you have to play at your best for a longer period of time.”
Kyrgios has been handed a tough draw in Melbourne, where he could face Karen Khachanov in the third round before a potential fourth-round meeting with world No. 1, Rafael Nadal. The 2015 Australian Open quarter finalist opens against Italian, Lorenzo Sonego, and could take on former world No. 6, Gilles Simon in the second round.
Kyrgios refused to be drawn into a war of words with Zverev, saying the German’s comments are the least of his worries. The 24-year-old has been visibly shaken by the devastating bushfires that have affected Australia, and has played a very active role in raising funds for victims of the fires. Kyrgios has pledged to donate $200 AUD for every ace he serves during the Australian summer.
“I’m not going to entertain that too much,” Kyrgios said. “With everything going on, that’s the least of my worries.
“He’s a great player. I’m not quite sure where those comments come from. I’m sure he didn’t mean them in a bad way”.
“But if he did, then I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to you. I mean, I’m not going to entertain that too much.”
Zverev and Kyrgios have generally had up a healthy rivalry in their young careers, but former world No. 3 was on the receiving end of some of his rival’s antics during the recently held ATP Cup. With Zverev struggling with his serve in his singles’ match against De Minaur, Kyrgios rammed home the pressure by doing push-ups after every double fault the German hit. Zverev had 14 double faults as he collapsed to a 4-6 7-6 6-2 defeat despite leading by a set and a break.
When asked about Kyrgios’s behaviour, Zverev just about side-stepped the controversy at the time.
“What do you want me to say? It’s Nick. It’s just what he does”.
“He does that at Laver Cup as well. I mean, I know that Grigor almost had a fight with him and Jack in 2018″.
“Yeah, I mean, he can do whatever he wants. If he wants to do pushups, that’s fine, as long as he doesn’t offend anybody or do the Nick Kyrgios stuff that he sometimes does that I don’t care about it.”
Zverev was well below par at the ATP Cup, losing all of his three singles matches. He will hope for big improvements at the Australian Open, as he aims to make his Grand Slam breakthrough. The former Nitto ATP Finals champion has never been to a major semi-final (his two quarter finals have been at Roland Garros), with his best effort at the Australian Open being last year’s fourth-round run.
Zverev is in the same quarter of the draw with Daniil Medvedev, and could play Nadal (or Kyrgios for that matter) if he gets as far as the semi-finals.