History of hatred: What ignited the Kyrgios-Djokovic feud
"I just feel like he has a sick obsession, wanting to be liked. He just wants to be like Roger (Federer). He just wants to be liked so much that I just can't stand him."
With that, in May 2019, on the No Challenges Remaining podcast, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios let the world know how he truly felt about world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
They've still met only twice on court, in back-to-back tournaments in March 2017, but Kyrgios blasted his way past the Serbian superstar both times - without dropping a set.
The lack of on-court battles is all that's missing from what's become one of tennis' most compelling rivalries, one that got a kick along with another of Kyrgios' late-night tweets.
"Djokovic is a tool," he wrote on Monday night, four words that were lapped up by a baying Australian public aghast at the 17-times grand slam champion's list of Australian Open quarantine demands.
It was Kyrgios' latest chip at Djokovic, who typically refuses to bite back.
When first asked about the 25-year-old Canberran's inflammatory comments about him, Djokovic said he wasn't "losing any sleep over it".
He later liked an Instagram post quoting American champion John McEnroe saying Kyrgios could be a top-five player if not for his lack of effort.
The lack of a vicious return from Djokovic hasn't dulled Kyrgios' enthusiasm for criticising and trolling him.
At one point in 2019, he even drew a big cross on a fan's shirt emblazoned with 'Novak' and posted the video on his Instagram account.
Kyrgios was also outspoken about Djokovic's infamous Adria Tour, where the Serb, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all returned positive COVID-19 results, after showing little regard for the seriousness of it.
"Hell of a tennis player. May go unbeaten in 2020, can't take that away from him," Kyrgios tweeted in August last year.
"Unfortunately when he was supposed to show some leadership and humility he went missing. Majority would say he has taken an L regardless."
That came during a period where Kyrgios also slammed the likes of Alex Zverev - calling him "selfish" - and Coric for similar irresponsibility during the pandemic.
However, there's something extra when it comes to Djokovic.
After Djokovic's US Open default for recklessly hitting a line judge, Kyrgios posted a Twitter poll wondering whether he'd be banned for five, 10 or 20 years in similar circumstances.
Kyrgios also detests his 'heart-throwing' post-match celebration and even lightheartedly warned that he'd mock imitate it if he beats Djokovic a third time.
That brings us to the head-to-head record again.
With Djokovic locked in as the No. 1 seed and Kyrgios the most dangerous unseeded floater in the event, they could clash as early as round one.
It would be a guaranteed blockbuster that might even force Australian Open boss Craig Tiley to schedule Kyrgios on Rod Laver Arena, away from his beloved John Cain Arena (formerly Melbourne Arena).
Kyrgios thinks Djokovic will eventually surpass both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the outright grand slam titles lead, but there's one reason he'll never consider him the greatest.
"No matter how many grand slams he wins, like, he will never be the greatest to me, simply because I've played him twice and, I'm sorry, but if you can't beat me you're not the greatest of all-time," Kyrgios said.
"Because if you look at my day-to-day routine and how much I train and put in, it's zero compared to him.
"For me, Federer will always be the greatest of all-time, hands down … what Rafa's done as well is scary.
"Djokovic just rubs me the wrong way. He always says what he feels like he needs to say (and) never speaks his opinion."
Originally published as History of hatred: What ignited the Kyrgios-Djokovic feud