(CNN)Novak Djokovic broke down in tears while reflecting on his friendship with Kobe Bryant at the Australian Open.
Speaking after his quarterfinal victory over Milos Raonic, Djokovic hailed Bryant, who died alongside his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash Sunday, as “one of the greatest athletes of all time”.”He inspired myself and many other people around the world,” the Serb said in Melbourne.
"He was there for me"@DjokerNole pays tribute to his late friend and mentor Kobe Bryant.#AO2020 | #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/k8sRHcBATw
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2020 “I had the fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years. “When I needed some advice and some support he was there for me. He was my mentor, my friend. It’s heartbreaking to see and hear what has happened to him and his daughter.”Read MoreREAD: Roger Federer saves seven match points to reach Australian Open semifinalsREAD: The 24 moments that made Kobe Bryant a global superstar
Novak Djokovic cries as he pays tribute to Kobe Bryant at the Australian Open.Djokovic, the defending champion who next faces Roger Federer in the semifinals, also posted a heartfelt tribute to the NBA great on social media earlier this week.He signed a TV camera lens with the names of Bryant of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna as he left the court.
Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios also paid tribute to Bryant during their fourth-round match Monday.Kyrgios, a huge basketball fan, wore a Lakers jersey during his warmup and in the post-match press conference, while Nadal hailed him as “one of the greatest sportsmen in history.”