Novak Djokovic’s 21st grand slam title may have moved him into outright second all-time but Nick Kyrgios has a reality check for the legend.

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The Serbian is sandwiched between Nadal (22) and Roger Federer (20), although the 40-year-old Swiss maestro is unlikely to add more after persistent injuries, despite teasing a comeback to Wimbledon.

Kyrgios has an impressive record against all of the Big Three, having claimed victories against each player.

Before the Wimbledon loss, Kyrgios had defeated Djokovic in their two previous meetings. Against Rafael Nadal, Kyrgios has three wins from nine matches, while Federer has the wood over the Aussie with a 6-1 career record.

While Kyrgios appeared awe-struck by Djokovic’s consistency and ability to wear an opponent down, he said the Serbian wasn’t the toughest player he’s faced.

Asked in the post-match press conference if Djokovic was the “toughest opponent you’ve ever come across”, the Canberran replied: “I wouldn’t say that.

“As I said, I thought I put myself in a position to win today. But he doesn’t make you feel as bad as Federer does at times.

“Federer, out of the other three guys, can make you feel really bad. And he makes you want to leave the court. He can make things seem really quick and the court’s really small.

“Nadal and Djokovic, they allow you to play a little bit from the back and then if you’re playing not great, you struggle. But Federer can really take it to you and get you off the court really quick.”

Despite playing for just over three hours in the Wimbledon final and taking the ultimately deciding fourth set to a tie-breaker, Kyrgios won the first set and kept Djokovic on court for more than three hours, before losing the fourth set tiebreak which sealed the result.

The 27-year-old is confident he has the game to match it with Djokovic and the world’s best, but said all the extra elements that go with a grand slam final meant he was dealing with more than just someone else holding a racquet.

“I wouldn’t say it was the toughest, I think everything — the final of Wimbledon, the anxiety of having that day off from the semi-final. I slept terribly again last night,” Kyrgios said.

“I think not playing the semi-finals may have done me a bit of a disservice because I was just thinking about it all the time.

“But that comes with experience. I thought I handled myself well today. I did what I had to do tactically to give myself a chance and I just came up short. I’m happy with that.”

Kyrgios said the difference between this result and his previous two wins over Djokovic was that it came in a best-of-five clash at a major rather than best-of-three in other tournaments during the year.

“In best-of-five against these guys — Novak, Nadal and Federer — you feel like you win the first set, you still have to climb up Mount Everest to get it done,” Kyrgios said.

“In best-of-three those two previous times, I won those first sets and I was right on top of him and I kept pressing and pressing.

“I feel like that fourth set, if I’m just able to play a bit more of a solid tiebreak and take it to a fifth set, it’s honestly anyone’s match because I started to feel better physically towards the end of that match, which was odd.

“But he’s just so composed. You can’t seem to rattle him. I was trying to play aggressive off his second serve — I served amazing I thought today and he was just able to put so many balls in play.”

Djokovic’s 21st major win has once again put the spotlight on the GOAT debate and his victory will only firm up Kyrgios’ belief it’s now a two-horse race.

“Roger is done for me in the GOAT talks guys, he is done,” Kyrgios said on his No Boundaries podcast in March.

“He’s got a losing record against both of them (Nadal and Djokovic), a really bad record. I don’t even think Roger beats some of the other guys on the grass.

“If he (Nadal) wins the French, he is unquestionably the GOAT. If he gets to 22 and the others are on 20 he has the GOAT crown.”

For the record, Nadal leads Federer 24-16 and Djokovic is ahead 27-23 in his head-to-head battles with the Swiss champion.

Fans were quick to reignite the GOAT debate as the 35-year-old Djokovic moves back within one grand slam of Nadal, who pulled ahead with wins this year at the Australian Open and French Open.

ABC’s Catherine Murphy said: “Rafa 22, Novak 21, Roger 20. The GOAT race continues.

“@NickKyrgios gracious & good humoured in defeat, I REALLY hope he keeps wanting to win, keeps chasing a major, because it’s fair to say, he is NEVER boring to watch.”

The Herald Sun’s Jackie Epstein tweeted: “Tough loss for Kyrgios but Nadal 22, Djokovic 21, Federer 20 … an incredible era”.

Daily Mirror reporter Neil McLeman posted: “Debate over the male #GOAT will go on. But #Djokovic is the best defensive player I have ever seen. More incredible retrievals today.”

Freelance journalist Declan Carr wrote: “On the GOAT list, Federer and Nadal are considerably ahead of Djokovic …”

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