Speaking recently on the 'No Boundaries' podcast, Nick Kyrgios said that tennis would not have witnessed the rise of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic without the achievements of Roger Federer spurring them on. Kyrgios also reckons Federer is currently the GOAT but admits Djokovic will take over the mantle once he wins his 21st Major.
When Federer burst onto the scene in 2002, the then GOAT Pete Sampras was playing in his last season on tour. Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi was also reaching the fag end of his career, meaning the Swiss did not have too many greats at their peak to drive him onwards.
Rafael Nadal announced himself in 2005, when Federer was already a multiple Slam champion and climbing to the top of the ladder very rapidly.
Novak Djokovic came a few years later, when Federer and Nadal were both at the pinnacle of the sport, thus providing the Serb a base to build his legacy upon.
On the podcast, Nick Kyrgios stressed that Federer's presence and dominance paved the way for Nadal and Djokovic to climb to the top of the sport.
"Without Federer, there is no Djokovic or Nadal," Nick Kyrgios said. "They were chasing him."
Kyrgios also opined that Roger Federer has "changed the sport" more than any of his rivals. He also believes that the Swiss's retirement will hurt tennis the most, especially from a financial perspective.
"Overall, he (Federer) is the one who has changed the sport the most," Kyrgios said. "And it's his retirement that will hurt tennis the most. For sponsors, etc."
When asked for his thoughts on the GOAT debate, Kyrgios threw his weight behind Roger Federer, calling the Swiss the "most influential player" in the history of the sport.
The Aussie reckons players copy Federer's style a lot more than Djokovic's. Having said that, Kyrgios acknowledged that the Serb would become the GOAT once he clinches his 21st Major.
“The GOAT? Today I say Federer," Kyrgios said. "The most influential player to ever play is Federer. His game is copied. On the tour there are guys like [Grigor] Dimitrov who have literally copied his game. Dude, find your own style!"
“No one really plays like Novak while people emulate Federer. Even I imitate his gesture in the serve sometimes. If Novak wins another Grand Slam, he will go ahead."
During the podcast, Kyrgios also likened Federer to legendary basketball player Michael Jordan, who is widely regarded as the face of his sport. In that context, the 26-year-old firmly believes that the Swiss has created a similar impact in tennis.
“For me, Federer is the Michael Jordan of tennis,” Kyrgios added. “What he accomplished for the sport, with the fans, with the kids… Of the three, I think it is Federer that the kids admire the most."
"There are several possible ways to become a professional tennis player, you don't have to be like Federer, Nadal or Djokovic" - Nick Kyrgios
During the podcast, Nick Kyrgios gave a word of advice to budding tennis players, explaining that one must strive to progress rather than seek perfection. The Aussie also believes one must firmly focus on themselves rather than draw comparisons with peers.
"We must not seek perfection, we must seek progress," Kyrgios said. "Try, every day, to improve in a field. Make it simple, train, change your diet if you eat anything. Do not be in constant competition with others. From the moment you stop comparing yourself to others... If you can look at yourself in the mirror, know that you are yourself and that you can be proud of it, be satisfied with what you have."
In sync with his previous bit of advice, Kyrgios added that it is not remotely mandatory to mold your game like Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic's, citing how he managed to beat all three with his own style.
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"There are several possible ways to become a professional tennis player, you don't have to be like Federer, Nadal or Djokovic," Kyrgios continued. "I beat these guys in my own way. Whatever the sport or profession, you have to believe it, have self-confidence. Obviously, you have to work hard. There is no shortcut."