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Bette and Joan.

Biggie and Tupac.

Katy and Taylor.

Might Nick and Casper join the upper echelon of epic feuds?

Not so fast: ahead of his return to the Citi Open, 2019 champion Nick Kyrgios discussed rival Casper Ruud hours after the Norwegian captured a third consecutive title—and fifth of the season.

“To win three back-to-back tournaments is not easy at all,” the Aussie said on Sunday. “He's got amazing discipline, obviously a great player. I never cut down his tennis. Great player. That works for him. If that's what's going to work best for his career, that's great.”

The praise comes after Kyrgios previously criticized the slew of ATP 250 tournaments that take place on clay between Wimbledon and the North American hard-court season, a riff that appeared as much to do with his animus towards Ruud as any concern—however genuine—with the calendar.


This now-legendary beef first began in 2019 when Kyrgios was defaulted in the third set of their Internazionali BNL d’Italia battle for behavior Ruud (who celebrated the win at the time) later deemed “totally crazy,” calling him an “idiot” in an interview given that October.

Kyrgios responded with inimitable aplomb, sledging Ruud’s “boring af” tennis on Twitter and claiming he’d rather "watch paint dry” than any match of his.

Ruud declined to escalate the conflict further, leaving the feud to simmer until this summer, when Kyrgios, who thrilled Wimbledon fans with an entertaining mixed doubles campaign alongside Venus Williams, took issue with the ATP’s summer schedule—and a series of tournaments Ruud just so happened to be dominating.

“It’s detrimental to the sport,” he wrote on Twitter, adding facepalm emojis for effect. “My god. Excluding [Richard] Gasquet, cuz he playing for just points this is just sad man. No wonder we are going backwards.”

To the extent that Ruud was indeed attempting to vulture points from smaller tournaments, the 22-year-old took full advantage, reeling off 11 straight match wins—though only two were against Top 90 players—to surge up to a career-high ranking of No. 12.

Ruud eventually responded to Kyrgios’ repeated swipes at the summer clay swing when the ATP Twitter sent a call for fan questions for the Aussie, asking to name his favorite clay-court tournament.

Subsequent replies from Kyrgios—which ranged from sarcastic to serious—were deleted, but he did ultimately answer Ruud's question in a video posted by the ATP

All in all, the pre-tournament banter makes it clear Kyrgios isn’t taking the feud too seriously.

“I don't honestly give a single 'F',” he said of his post-pandemic mindset. “I do whatever I want to do, float around, play some tournaments, just have some fun with it.”

Unseeded in Washington, D.C., a more philosophical Kyrgios, who has himself been open of late in addressing his struggles with mental health and motivation, will take on American Mackenzie McDonald on Tuesday and plans to pair with good friend Frances Tiafoe for a doubles encounter with No. 3 seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ivan Dodig.