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Updated January 14th, 2024 at 19:00 IST

When cricket meets tennis: Kohli and Novak's mutual admiration club

It all started when Kohli reached out to the record 24-time Major champion on social media with a simple greeting.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli | Image:BCCI
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Indian cricket icon Virat Kohli on Sunday opened up about the mutual admiration he shares with Serbian tennis legend Novak Djokovic in a heart-warming tale of cross-sport camaraderie.

It all started when Kohli reached out to the record 24-time Major champion on social media with a simple greeting.

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But to his surprise, the tennis maestro had already messaged him, marking the beginning of their friendship.

"I got in touch with Novak very organically, I was just looking at his profile once on Instagram and I just happened to press the message button. I thought I'll just say hello, maybe," Kohli revealed on BCCI twitter ahead of his T20 comeback against Afghanistan at Indore.

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"And then I saw a message from him on my DM already. I never opened it myself. So, first time I saw my own messages myself, I saw, he messaged me himself. And I was like, let me just check if it's a fake account or something like that.

"But then I checked it again and it was legitimate. And then, yeah, we got talking. We keep exchanging messages every now and then. I congratulated him for all his amazing achievements." The two athletes quickly found common ground, regularly exchanging congratulatory messages on their respective achievements. They both are also epitome of supreme fitness allowing them to excel even in their mid 30s.

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Djokovic also congratulated Kohli on his 50th ODI century, by posting an Instagram story, a gesture that resonated deeply with the Indian cricketing great.

"When I got my 50th century recently, he put out a story and he sent me a very nice message as well. So, there's been a mutual admiration, respect.

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"It's really nice to connect with global athletes who are, you know, excelling at a high level. And I think, collectively, what I think about it is sending out a message of inspiration to the next generation in a way.

"I have a lot of respect for him, his journey, his passion for fitness, something that I dearly follow myself and believe in a lot. So there's a lot to connect on.

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"Hopefully If he comes to India sooner, I happen to be in a country where he is playing. I will definitely catch up with him and just chill out and maybe have a cup of coffee." Kohli's message for Djokovic came hours after the 36-year-old tennis told the Sony Sports Network that they both are "text buddies".

"Virat Kohli and I have been texting a bit for a few years. We never got a chance to meet in person, but it was really an honour and a privilege to hear him speak nicely about me.

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"I obviously admire all of his career and achievements. I started to play cricket, but I'm not very good at it. But I have a task to perfect my cricket skills before I come to India, and don't embarrass myself, when I'm there," Djokovic said.

Djokovic's only visit to India came in 2014 when he visited New Delhi for the now defunct International Tennis Premier League. The 36-year-old hopes to revisit the country with which he feels strongly connected to.

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"I've felt that for many years (connection). I visited India only once around 10 or 11 years ago for a two-day exhibition event in New Delhi. It was a brief stay, and I hope to return soon to explore the country's rich history, culture, and spirituality," he added.

Kohli also extended his best wishes to Djokovic for the Australian Open where the Serb will look for a record-extending 25th Grand Slam.

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Ahead of the Australian Open, Djokovic was seen playing an exhibition match with Aussie batter Steve Smith.

Kohli saw that clip and was also tempted to play with the Serb.

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"I saw that clip of him and Steve playing a bit of cricket and tennis. I think he's way better at swinging the bat than probably we are at swinging that racket. Steve did pretty well to return his serve.

"So I was a bit tempted. I was like, you know when you play cricket and you have hand-eye coordination, you're very tempted with racket sports.

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"You feel like, I can do this. But I've seen games live, tennis matches, and I know how fast those serves are, so I probably don't have a chance to touch that.

"But yeah, it'll be nice to probably do that with him as well. And hopefully, it's probably the only thing I can teach him is how to hold a cricket bat," Kohli added. 

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Published January 14th, 2024 at 19:00 IST

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