If you look in Nick Kyrgios’ player box at tournaments across the world, there are a few constants. One of them is his manager, Daniel Horsfall. ‘Horse’ is not the typical tennis manager, though. He was Kyrgios’ friend first.

The pair’s relationship dates back to their junior days in Canberra at Daramalan College, a school for students in Years 7-12. For Kyrgios’ fans, it will be no surprise that they met on the schoolyard basketball court.

“We didn’t really get along. It was maybe two or three weeks when we were playing basketball every day, going head to head and arguing, just being competitive,” Horsfall told ATPTour.com. “One day we got put on the same team and it just changed. Since [then] we’ve never looked back and been pretty close, attached at the hip for a few years there. It’s kind of led to where we all are now. He’s definitely like a brother from another mother. I’m very close with his family.”

Horsfall was not a big tennis fan. The only match he recalls from his childhood was when Lleyton Hewitt played the Australian Open final. He watched part of the match with his nan and pop.

“I don’t even remember watching the whole thing. It was pretty late. I went to bed and I was told the result, but it meant nothing to me,” Horsfall said. “Obviously being at school in Australia, a lot of people play rugby or soccer or basketball. Tennis is not really an accessible school sport. You don’t really get teams of tennis in Australia. It’s more of a college, U.S. thing I think. I honestly didn’t know much about tennis and Nick Kyrgios in that sense.”

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Horsfall knew Kyrgios as a basketball player. Nick signed up for the school team, but was rarely there because of tennis, and his teammates paid it no mind.

“It wasn’t until I became closer with him and friends with him. We would go out and eat Chinese food or play Pokemon for like 16 hours without sleep,” Horsfall said. “But I started to understand who he was and that he played tennis and that he was pretty good, that he had to travel to play sport. That means you’re pretty good. And then we graduated and then all of a sudden obviously I’d followed his career and he was overseas and we were waiting for him to come back all the time.”

According to Horsfall, they “used to have sleepovers every day”. But he did not fully realise the scope of what Kyrgios was doing until the Australian upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2014.

As Kyrgios immediately surged into the spotlight, Horsfall supported from afar and grew a career of his own as a real estate agent. In recent years, he began to travel with Kyrgios for support. But it was not until June 2022 that he shifted from friend to manager.

“I’d worked for about six years selling houses. That was really good, had a pretty nice career in that. Obviously when Covid hit, by 2020 I was actually travelling with Nick a fair bit, so obviously I was trying to wind down and manage the real estate needs,” Horsfall said. “But I actually started painting sneakers and I had a couple [of] creations going on and I used to paint sneakers for Nick and people that were playing basketball and stuff. When he came to me after he came home from Indian Wells at the time when Covid had first broke, that’s when we started talking…

“He had a couple months at home and he just kind of opened up and was like, ‘Mate, I don’t even know if I could play tennis again.’ We sort of just broke it down from the roots. What’s the real problem? How do we fix this? Just getting back to the basic stuff and I hope that if I was in that situation as well that I would have a friend to call on like Nick and he would do the same for me, and I have no doubt that that would happen.”

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Through that process the pair became closer than ever. Horsfall and Kyrgios still disagree on basketball allegiances, though. ‘Horse’ is a big Miami Heat fan and Kyrgios loves the Boston Celtics.

“The rivalry between the Heat and the Celtics and obviously between Nick and I is tough because the Celtics have been winning against us the past couple of years, and trust me when I say I get a phone call or a text the second the game finishes about the result of the game and who’s won,” Horsfall said. “It could be 4 a.m., the guy is blowing up my phone.”

Fans will get a behind-the-scenes look at Kyrgios’ life on the ATP Tour in Netflix’s new tennis series Break Point.

“It’s exciting to see. It’s almost been a whole year, so you remember what’s happened, but you don’t really remember what it felt like in the bits and pieces,” Horsfall said. “I’m sure the cameras saw so much that’s left our minds, so it will be good to see what was going on and just the excitement on all our faces again and the enjoyment of the moment that we were all experiencing. Looking forward to it for sure.”

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