It’s no secret that John McEnroe has been one of Nick Kyrgios’ fiercest critics over the past few years so when the Aussie joined the Team World line-up, playing under captain McEnroe, some wondered how the pair would get along.
Last year, when Kyrgios retired injured from his US Open third round against Illya Marchenko, McEnroe said on ESPN: “Nick Kyrgios, if you don’t want to be a professional tennis player, do something else.”
The American legend also previously hit out at Kyrgios’ trick shots, saying: “He thinks he’s a vaudeville entertainer. I hope he learns from these bonehead moves… You don’t want to be remembered as a clown.”
After last year’s defeat to Andy Murray at Wimbledon, McEnroe said of Kyrgios: “He doesn’t understand what it takes to be someone who wins Grand Slams at this level and that is unfortunate.”
And when Kyrgios squandered a two-sets-to-love lead against Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open this year, McEnroe said: “What I don’t understand, what I can’t accept, is when he stops trying. It’s a black eye for the sport.”
But despite the history between the two, Kyrgios has lots of respect for the seven-time Grand Slam champion, and is happy to call him ‘captain’ during the Laver Cup this weekend in Prague.
“Obviously I know that the press kind of just take away what they wanna take away from what he says and that’s not completely what he’s saying all the time,” said Kyrgios when asked about McEnroe on Thursday.
“So all I know is he’s an unbelievable tennis player, he’s achieved a lot of things, and everything he says to me I know he says because he only really cares. I know he wants to win and he’s a great captain to play for.”
The Laver Cup commenced at 13:00 (Prague time, 15:00 Dubai time) on Friday with Francis Tiafoe of Team World, taking on Marin Cilic at the O2 Arena in the Czech capital.
Here’s a look at the team line-ups: