If Nick Kyrgios ever really tires of travelling the world and playing tennis and making large sums of money, then surely the sweet science beckons for a man of his particular talents.
Given his disdain for training, lacing up the gloves wouldn't be his first choice. His natural habitat would be behind a microphone as a manager or a promoter, because if ever there was an athlete that belonged in a sport with zero filter, it's the Australian tennis star.
In a podcast with New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, Kyrgios had paint peeling from the walls as he shredded some of the game's iconic figures. It was raw, brutal, completely refreshing (if you aren't one of the targets) and for Rothenberg, a dream interview where every question was greeted with an honest answer.
His main targets were Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Fernando Verdasco, who chafes Kyrgios like corduroy pants in a Darwin summer. Some of his criticism is so heavily laced with irony it almost implodes but let's explore all three and, because we are grown-ups, rank them accordingly.
Novak Djokovic – WINNER
It's abundantly clear, as we shall see later, that if Kyrgios was sentenced to 18 holes of golf with one of the trio, Verdasco would be his worst result. He simply cannot cop the bloke. But there is something about his takedown of Djokovic, the current world No.1, that just purrs like a Rolls Royce.
"I just feel like he has a sick obsession with wanting to be liked," Kyrgios told Rothenberg, highlighting an issue that for him has never presented as a huge problem. "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."
No matter how many grand slams he wins, he will never be the greatest for me.
Can't stand him! Phwoar. Although, he does apply a bit of ice to the bruise by damning him with some faint praise about his abilities on the court.
"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.
But then, the sucker-punch: "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."
Kyrgios skates onto some thinning ice there when he references Djokovic withdrawing from matches. Given his occasional propensity to mentally check out when he's not playing particularly well, or would just rather be elsewhere, it will surely give Djokovic some ammunition with which to return fire.
Luckily for Kyrgios, Djokovic is about as genuine as a Louis Vuitton bag purchased on the steps of the train station, so this should be one-way traffic. And don't get him started on the Serb's 'feel the love' celebration, where he opens his arms to embrace the crowd after a win. Oh… too late.
"Djokovic, again, just rubs me the wrong way. He always says what feels like he needs to say; never speaks his opinion. This whole celebration thing that he does after matches, it’s like so cringeworthy. It’s very cringeworthy.
"These guys, they're not bad guys, but him especially … the celebration just kills me. Every time he does the celebration it just kills me. Honestly, that's what I'm doing next time: if I play him and beat him, I'm doing his celebration, in front of him. That would be hilarious, right?"
Uh, yep, … sure. Go right ahead.
Rafael Nadal – RUNNER-UP
This portion probably has the best grab of the whole thing when Kyrgios, almost sounding Trumpian, extols the virtues of his top-shelf Canberrra P-12 education in response to a sledge from Nadal's uncle (and former coach) Toni Nadal.
"Every time I’ve beaten him … when he wins, it’s fine. He won’t say anything bad, he’ll credit the opponent, ‘He was a great player’. But as soon as I beat him, it’s just like, ‘He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game’.
"And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? I literally played this way when I beat you the other previous times and nothing changed, nothing changed. When you beat me in Rome here a couple of years ago, nothing changed; I was the same person’.
"It’s not a good look for you, I feel. And then uncle Toni came out saying, ‘He lacks education’. I’m like, ‘Bra, I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I’m very educated. I understand that you’re upset I beat your family again’.
He also said Nadal is 'super salty', like Nobby's Nuts. You simply can't argue with a man that brandishes a HSC from Daramalan College. Top marks, Bra.
Fernando Verdasco – CONSOLATION PRIZE
Nothing particularly clever about any of this … Kyrgios would rather do 500 one-on-one media interviews in a row than be in the same postcode as the Spaniard.
He thinks he's God's gift. Dude, your backhand's pretty average and let's be honest, you hit a ball over a net.
"Verdasco drives me nuts, man. That guy … I don't even want to talk about it," Kyrgios said, before going on to talk about it in impressive detail. "It gets me so vexed, I'm like angry now that I just hear that name. He's the most arrogant person ever.
"He doesn't say hello, he thinks he's so good, he thinks he's God's gift. Dude, your backhand's pretty average and let's be honest, you hit a ball over a net.
"Guy's like that, they drive me insane. There's no humility there, there's no perspective, it's just like, 'I'm here, I'm so cool, I'm unbelievable because I hit a ball over the net. Do this for me, do this for me, I won't say hello to you, I'm too important'. Guys like that. See how angry I'm getting? It kills me."