Young American star Coco Gauff has revealed her admiration for Nick Kygrios after a friendly gesture from the Australian.
Both players have reached the US Open round of 16 this year, with Gauff yet to lose a set at the tournament.
The 18-year-old also reached the French Open final in June while Kyrgios reached the Wimbledon final.
The Aussie has achieved good form in 2022 but remains a divisive figure due to his inconsistent behavior on the pitch.
While Gauff admits she doesn’t always like what she sees from Kyrgios in this regard, she will always support the Australian due to the generosity he showed her a couple of years ago.
“I know he does things on the pitch that people don’t agree with. I probably don’t agree with some things,” Gauff said.
“Overall I think he’s a nice person. At least he was always there for me. I remember batting with him for the first time, he probably doesn’t remember, I was 13 years old at the Miami Open. He finished his practice and hit me for about 30 minutes.
“It’s just things like that that set me apart. That’s why I feel like I can never hate him.
“When I was 14 again at the Miami Open, he finished a two-hour practice.
“I think with Frances Tiafoe. I remember saying, ‘There’s no way he’s going to want to meet me.’
“He just ground it for two hours. He actually stayed and had another hour with me.
“It’s just moments like this where people don’t really see him. So I think people portray him as a villain. I feel on the premises, at least my experience with him, he’s not.
“I think in the end batting with him helped me as a player in the long run. He told me good things about my game. At the time I thought, ‘Nick Kyrgios thinks I’m a good player.’ You start to believe that and gain confidence in it.”
New York energy 🗣🗣🗣 pic.twitter.com/P3INqx0YlK
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) September 3, 2022
Gauff believes Kyrgios can win the US Open this year and admits she will be cheering for him no matter who he meets.
“If he keeps this up I think he can go far. He can win the tournament. We all know he has the ability to do it. He was close at Wimbledon,” said Gauff.
“To be honest, I always, always have his back no matter who he plays.”
Kyrgios meets world number one Daniil Medvedev in the round of 16, while Gauff will take on Zhang Shuai as both look to continue their impressive runs at the US Open.