Friendships will go on hold when Nick Kyrgios chases a prized French Open scalp against Andy Murray on Saturday.
Kyrgios admits he looked up to Murray while growing up in Canberra, but knows there’ll be no room for sentiment when he guns for a place in the last 16 in Paris.
The former Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic champion has also taken a liking to fellow Australian young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis, the Scot introducing the 19-year-old to the famed Court Philippe Chatrier in a a spirited pre-tournament practice session last week.
“He’s been really nice to me and all to the young guys. He’s always mentored us and he’s always offered to hit or help wherever possible,” Kyrgios said of his third-round friend and foe.
“He’s a great role model and if I was to ask for help, he would be a possible person I would ask for.
“So you’ve sort of got to put that to the side when you go out and play him.
“You watch him on TV so much when you’re growing up and all of a sudden I’m playing him third round of the French Open, and I’ve played him a couple of times already.
“So it’s a tough situation.”
Murray accounted for Kyrgios in straight sets in the Australian Open quarter-finals, but remains wary of the 20-year-old’s explosive firepower and proven ability to rise to the occasion.
“He’s obviously a very talented guy. He likes the big stage. He’s had some good results at the slams,” Murray said.
“Also away from the slams, he obviously beat Roger (Federer) a few weeks ago on the clay (in Madrid). So, yeah, I mean, he can cause a lot of players trouble.
“He’s going to be around for a long time.”
To stick around any longer in Paris, Kyrgios must snap Murray’s unbeaten 12-match streak on clay in 2015.
“Definitely I think I can win. I’ve got the game,” Kyrgios said.
“I’m feeling a lot fitter than I was as well. So if I play the right game style, I definitely think I can. I’m feeling a lot more fitter and stronger this time around.
“But, in saying that, he is one of the best players on tour at the moment. I just have to prepare, to do everything I can.”
Kokkinakis faces an even greater challenge on Saturday against world No.1 and hot title favourite Novak Djokovic.
But the teenager says he fears no one after reaching a grand slam third round for the first time and is vowing to play his own game in pursuit of one of a huge boilover.
“If you feel like you can compete, then you can compete. You can’t try and be scared of anybody on the tour,” Kokkinakis said.
“Maybe when you’re younger, then you look up to them and you still look up to a few players now, but you’ve got to get used to it.
“You’re going to play them, as I’m playing in a couple days’ time. Just got to be ready.”
The Special Ks are the last Australians in the singles in Paris after Samantha Stosur lost her third-round women’s match 6-3 6-4 to defending champion Maria Sharapova on Friday.