Nick Kyrgios might not get the on-court Australian Open showdown against Novak Djokovic he might have wanted, but he's still determined to keep their simmering feud alive.
Clearly not willing to sit back on the sidelines, Kyrgios took another potshot at Djokovic over a medical time-out the world No.1 took during his five-set marathon against American star Taylor Fritz.
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The defending champion said that, "god willing", he hopes to line up in Sunday's fourth round match with Milos Raonic despite a suspected torn stomach muscle that almost derailed him against Fritz.
When asked about Djokovic's injury after their match, a tongue-in-cheek Fritz suggested Djokovic had 'looked fine' in the deciding fifth set.
“When I hit a winner, he’d kind of, like, pull at it. He looked fine in the fifth," Fritz said.
"If he can play like he played in the fifth, I don't see why he wouldn't play. He'll beat pretty much anyone."
Following his third round exit from the Australian Open, Fritz posted a message to Instagram thanking his followers for their support - but it was in the comments of that post that Kyrgios chose to add a little more fuel to the simmering fire between him and Djokovic.
“Imma take a medical real quick Fritzy, I’ll be back in 2 hours," Kyrgios posted in the comments.
While Djokovic recently said he doesn't have 'much respect' for Kyrgios, the Serbian superstar had bigger issues on his mind after defeating Fritz.
The 33-year-old said after the match that he wasn't sure if he would be able to recover in time for his fourth-round match-up against Milos Raonic on Sunday evening.
"I know it's a tear, I don't know if I'll be able to recover from that in two days," Djokovic said.
"I don't know if I'll be able to step out on court, I don't know.
"I honestly don't know how I won that match. I'm very proud and at the same time sad and worried."
Concerns over Novak Djokovic injury at Australian Open
The eight-time Australian Open champion admitted he very nearly retired hurt, such was his distress when he called for the trainer while in agony in the third set.
"I knew right away that something not so great was happening," he said.
"I don't want to talk about the intensity or the level of injury and pain; it's not going to matter much because people don't understand what you go through on the court," he said.
"But the way it felt definitely at the beginning of that third set when I got my first medical time-out, I was debating really strongly in my head to retire because I couldn't move, I couldn't rotate, I couldn't return.
"The only thing I could do is serve - and that's what got me out of the trouble."
Djokovic said the 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 victory under these circumstances was "one of the best moments I've had in my career."
He also reflected on a unique occasion which saw the match start in front of a boisterous crowd and end without spectators after they were directed to leave at 11.30pm with Victoria about to go into COVID-19 lockdown for five days.
"Nothing surprises me any more with what we're experiencing globally," said Djokovic, when asked what he felt about the enforced mid-match exodus.
"Obviously, it's a unique experience for me - to play half of the match in front of a crowd and half of the match without the crowd. I've never experienced anything like that before.
"I'm just hoping that, for my own sake, I'll be able to play and, for the sake of this tournament, we'll be able to have a crowd very quickly."
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