Historic tensions between Nick Kyrgios and Karen Khachanov could come to the surface once again when the pair play each other in the US Open quarter-finals later today. The pair have only met twice on the tennis court before, with the head-to-head record one match a piece, but have a history of verbally sparring on Twitter.
Kyrgios and has gained a reputation for clashing with other stars on the tour and Khachanov falls into that bracket. The most famous match between the players came in 2020 with the Wimbledon runner-up winning a five-set classic in the fourth round of the Australian Open, in a match which included four tie-breaks. The Russian won the other match-up at the Cincinnati Masters in 2019.
However, the pair are best known for their notorious Twitter spat in 2020 after Kyrgios was critical of some tennis stars’ actions during the pandemic. Novak Djokovic was a particular focus of his ire describing the Adria Tour organised by the Serb as ‘boneheaded’. His continued criticism of his tennis colleagues drew criticism from Khachanov especially after he called out Mats Wilander for his comments on Andy Murray.
The world No 31 told the Aussie that his comments were becoming ‘too much’ and that he should show some respect. The resulting argument has gone down in tennis folklore, especially after the world No 25 called his rival an ‘absolute pelican’.
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“Nah I’m good dude. Muzz and I respect each other, and if someone starts talking about one of mine then I’ll come at them. I’m supposed to respect Mats? For what? Hitting a ball over the net? I don’t give my respect for that.” Kyrgios wrote in response.
Khachanov replied: “Bro it’s your call.I really think you are a good lad and I don’t have any problem with you. But once you are sitting at home and writing different comments about players that makes me think who has the real problem.”
Kyrgios responded angrily: “So you think what the players did during this pandemic was smart? I’d love to have an intellectual conversation with you but I’m not sure it would go further than how hard you could hit a ball. I’ve simply been holding people accountable.”
The Russian player then called his rival out for becoming personal: Again I didn’t go personal against you. You are the one who wants a fight. If you don’t get what I was trying to say, then maybe you are “too smart” to understand that. Enjoy your days at home.
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“And next time before talking about my intellect read at least a few books, instead of playing video games whole day long.”
However Kyrgios appeared to get the last laugh : “I’ve also been feeding the hungry, helping open up new facilities for kids to get active. But way to do your research you absolute pelican.”
There do not appear to have been many exchanges between the players since the incident. The Aussie is known to have held grudges against players like Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas for some time. However, he now appears to be close friends with Djokovic despite his criticism of the 21-time major winner during the pandemic.
It remains to be seen whether the pair will be on better terms when they come out for their quarter-final later today. The winner will take on the winner of the tie between Casper Ruud and Marco Berrettini for a place in the US Open final.