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Djokovic hits back at Kyrgios as feud escalates

Wide World of Sports logo Wide World of Sports 18/07/2019 Sacha Mirzabegian

Novak Djokovic initially opted to take the high road when the world No.1 was inundated with questions relating to Nick Kyrgios’ podcast taunts.

But the Serbian star finally gave an insight into what he really thinks of the controversial Australian on social media on Thursday morning, after Kyrgios suggested the Wimbledon champion isn’t in the same domain as Federer or Rafael Nadal.

Kyrgios told the No Challenges Remaining Podcast, Djokovic was desperate to be held in the same category as Federer and labelled the world No.1 "cringeworthy".

“I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked,” Kyrgios told New York Times tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg.

“He just wants to be like Roger. For me personally — I don’t care right now, I’ve come this far — I feel like he just wants to be liked so much that I just can’t stand him.

“This whole celebration thing [the ‘boob-throwing’ celebration] that he does after matches, it’s like so cringe-worthy. It’s very cringeworthy.

Pictures: Facts about Novak Djokovic

“He’s an unbelievable player, he’s a champion of the sport; one of the greatest we’ll ever see. He probably will, honestly, I reckon he will get the Grand Slam count, I reckon he will overpass Federer.

“We’re talking about a guy who pulled out of the Australian Open one year because it was too hot. No matter how many Grand Slams he wins, he will never be the greatest for me.

“Simply because, I’ve played him twice and like, I’m sorry, but if you can’t beat me, you’re not the greatest of all time. Because if you like look at my day-to-day routine and how much I train and how much I put in, it’s zero compared to him.”

a man standing in front of a crowd: Novak Djokovic beats his chest after winning the Wimbledon final. © PA/AAP Novak Djokovic beats his chest after winning the Wimbledon final. Djokovic responded by saying he "wasn’t losing sleep” over the claims but couldn't help himself by returning serve once he'd wrapped up the Wimbledon title with his epic five set victory over Federer.

The Serb liked an Instagram Post where tennis legend John McEnroe was quoted from a BBC Radio interview saying Kyrgios if not the Australian's lack of trying and inconsistency, he would easily be considered a top five player in the game.

The tennis legend said while some might be disappointed by Kyrgios' effort levels, there's no doubt he's a drawcard for the sport.

“Is he good for the game? Yes he’s good for the game,” McEnroe told BBC Radio 5.

“Does he sell tickets? Yes. I can’t handle the fact that he only tries half the time. We can’t support that anymore. I don’t think he should be out there anymore unless he gives an honest effort — that’s my personal opinion.

“The guy would be top five in the world for sure if he was able to do it [give honest effort]. He’s got an incredible – this is my opinion – fear of failure. He doesn’t even allow himself to train hard enough to give himself a chance.

“You saw what he is capable of, he was driving Nadal crazy, it was the best second-round match, one of the best matches of the whole tournament. But when he plays guys he’s supposed to beat, he doesn’t even show up.”

Nick Kyrgios holding a woman: Kyrgios frustrated during his loss to Nadal. © AAP Kyrgios frustrated during his loss to Nadal. Kyrgios went out of his way to keep the fire burning between the two, when he openly supported Federer on Twitter on the day of the men's final.

Attention will soon turn to the final Grand Slam of the year in New York, where Djokovic has been champion three times.

Kyrgios heads to the US Open as the World No. 47 and his appearance at Flushing Meadow will evoke memories of umpire Mohamed Lahyani giving the Australian a pep talk in 2018.

Lahyani took the unusual step of coming down from his chair to encourage the Australian during the second-round match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, when Kyrgios showed barely any interest in playing as he trailed by a set and 3-0 down.

The umpire was heard saying: “I want to help you. You are great for tennis. I know this is not you.”

Kyrgios turned things around to advance with pundits and fans outraged by the umpire's input.

Pictures: Things to know about Nick Kyrgios

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