Kyrgios brushed off the flattery with a laugh and said it was “incorrect”.
“Are you going for world No. 1 this year?” Zverev fired back.
“No, I’m happy where I am, I’m happy with my life,” said Kyrgios.
He has every reason to be happy right now. Kyrgios fought through four tough matches to win the Brisbane title on Sunday. Three of those clashes saw Kyrgios battle back from a set down. He also beat world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov for the first time.
The 22-year-old Aussie did all that while dealing with a knee injury he picked up ahead of the tournament.
We’ve seen Kyrgios give up during matches when he’s struggling physically on several occasions, but not this time.
This time he stayed focused and found a second gear when he needed it. There was an evident fire motivating him all week and it earned him a fourth career title and first on home soil. He’s also moved up to No. 17 in the world – just four spots off his career-high ranking.
Is this a sign that Kyrgios has perhaps turned a corner and has come to terms with his love-hate relationship with tennis?
It’s too early in the season to tell.
Kyrgios’ talent is undeniable and the fact that he can beat anyone on a good day is not news to anyone who has seen him play.
But it’s easy to find motivation in the first week of a season while playing a tournament at home. It’s tougher when you’re deep into the year, exhausted, homesick and mentally spent and you’re trying to win a match thousands of miles away from home.
Still the early forecast for Kyrgios is a very encouraging one. And it’s prompting many to put him among the list of contenders for the Australian Open crown this month.
Can Kyrgios really win 11 matches in a row in a four-week period, picking up two titles along the way including a maiden Grand Slam? It’s a big ask!
I remember in 2014 when a 19-year-old Kyrgios won 12 matches in a row, winning the Nottingham Challenger, as a qualifier, before storming to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, knocking out world No. 1 Rafael Nadal along the way.
Kyrgios joked about how care-free he was as a young player. He was talking about Aussie teenager Alex de Minaur, who made the Brisbane semis last week.
“He’s an unbelievable talent. He’s a great kid, too…. I remember when I was a young chap just cleaning people up,” said Kyrgios.
Is it possible for him to tap into that youthfulness once again? He is only 22 after all.
It’s the first time he heads to the Australian Open after winning a title, and he does appear to be in a positive head space compared to the past.
If he keeps the dodgy knee in check, Kyrgios can do some serious damage in an Australian Open field that is missing big names like Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori, and features several top guys with injury question marks surrounding them.
If he can call onto that young Kyrgios who was “cleaning up people” and brings the kind of game he produced in Brisbane, he has a legitimate chance in Melbourne.
Andy Murray revealed the extent of the pain he was going through due to his hip injury, in a phone interview with The Times’ Stuart Fraser along with other British journalists.
Murray, who has been sidelined with the injury since Wimbledon last July, underwent surgery on his right hip in Melbourne on Monday, and says he is “very optimistic” about the future after going under the knife.
Murray had been sceptical about having surgery but believes it was the only choice.
“I’m very optimistic because, having spoken to the surgeon after he did the surgery, he was very happy about how it went,” Murray told The Times and other British reporters.
“He felt that my hip will be feeling better than it did a year ago.”
Murray also said he will be planning his schedule more carefully and not play as many tournaments in order to preserve his body.
“At Wimbledon basically everything was hurting,” he said in the same interview.
“I had never been in pain like that before. Whereas now the thing that was stopping me from playing and the reason why I decided to have the surgery was because I was struggling basically to do extensions…
“I was nervous this morning but it was the right decision to make,” he said of his surgery.
“I was struggling. I’ve been in pain walking since before Wimbledon. It’s got better but still it’s extremely tiring mentally when every single time you are walking that you are feeling your hip, from the minute that you wake up in the day and start walking to when you lie down at night.”
Murray is hopeful he’ll be back on tour for the summer’s grass season. He will have been out of action for nearly a year.
Following an eventful first week of the 2018 tennis season, here’s a look at the standout stats from all the action.
Tournaments took place in Brisbane, Doha, Pune, Shenzhen, and Auckland along with the mixed teams exhibition Hopman Cup in Perth, in opening week.
Check out these Seven Deadly Stats from the week gone by…
6 – Elina Svitolina is undefeated in her last six finals. The last time the 23-year-old lost a title match was in 2016 in Zhuhai. She is 10-2 win-loss in career finals.
14 – Goerges’ current match winning streak. The German’s run goes back to last season, which she ended by claiming back-to-back titles in Moscow and Zhuhai. Goerges started Moscow last October ranked No. 27 in the world. She is now up to a career-high No. 12 thanks to her three consecutive title triumphs.
17 – years since Federer had last won the Hopman Cup. The Swiss claimed his second title in the mixed teams exhibition event, having previously won it with Martina Hingis in 2001.
26 – Monfils has a 26 per cent winning record in career finals. He entered the Doha final on Saturday with a 0-3 record in Qatar Open title matches but final ended his tournament hoodoo by defeating Andrey Rublev. He owns a subpar 7-20 win-loss record in career finals.
32 – spots Gilles Simon has moved up the world rankings, thanks to his title run in Pune. He is now up to No. 57.
36 – double faults struck by Andrey Rublev in his five matches contested in Doha last week. He walked away with the runner-up trophy nonetheless.
67 – aces fired by Kyrgios in his four matches en route to the Brisbane title, averaging 16.75 aces per match.