Nick Kyrgios jokingly said it was “love at first sight” between him and Andy Murray, and the pair “can’t stop looking at each other”, ahead of their Wimbledon clash on Monday.
The Australian, 21, goes up against tournament favourite Murray for a place in the quarter-finals, but spent the build-up showering the 2013 champion with heartfelt compliments.
“Our relationship’s pretty good,” Kyrgios, the 15th seed, said.
“We joke a lot. When he’s in the locker room, it’s just instant banter. We just have a lot of fun. He’s a very relaxed guy, down to earth. He baits me a lot of time. He’s always very funny. He’s a great guy. It’s awesome.
“It was love at first sight.”
Kyrgios continued his jovial behaviour when said he was impressed with Murray’s athletic prowess, and said he spends time just staring at the British world No 2 in the locker room.
“When you look at Andy, you just look at him, he’s a great athlete.
“When Andy walks in, we see each other, we just give each other a look. We can’t stop looking at each other for a bit.”
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But Kyrgios said he was also awestruck by seven-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer and defending champion Novak Djokovic, who was knocked out of the tournament on Saturday by Sam Querrey.
“When I see Roger, everyone sort of just looks at Roger,” Kyrgios said. “Roger has an aura about him. I think he’s the greatest player of all time. I just watch him. I don’t say anything. It’s the same with Novak.
“But Andy, I don’t know, it’s different.”
Kyrgios said the downing of Djokovic meant the 16 players left in the draw all felt that bit closer to the Wimbledon title, especially Murray and Federer.
“As soon as Novak loses, you look at Andy and you look at Federer’s eyes light up. They think that their chances probably doubled,” he said.
“I think a lot of people in the locker room now believe they can win it. If the stars align and they’re playing well, there’s a lot of people that can go get it.”
Murray is the favourite for the title, Federer second and Kyrgios fourth behind Milos Raonic.
Kyrgios set up the Murray clash by beating Spanish 22nd seed Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.
Controversy seems to follow Kyrgios wherever he goes, but Murray is one of the few players who defends the temperamental Canberran.
“He backs me up a lot, which is good. It’s just good to have one of the best players in the world, to have a good friend like that. I see him at times more than I see my family,” Kyrgios said.
Murray said the troubles surrounding Kyrgios were largely down to the press trying to provoke a reaction.
“You’re trying to wind him up the whole time. It’s not really fair on him,” Murray, 29, saids.
“When he makes a mistake, yeah, it’s fine.
“But it happens a lot where it doesn’t seem like he’s really done much in comparison to what other players are doing, and he’s the one that gets asked all the questions about it.
“I’m sure over time he’ll start to do better and understand better how to deal with all of the attention and the questions and stuff. But sometimes he hasn’t done loads wrong, and he’s got a rough ride.”
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