Nick Kyrgios’ feud with Novak Djokovic is showing no signs of slowing, with the Australian firebrand firing back at the world No.1 after Djokovic said he ‘doesn’t have much respect for him’.
Djokovic and Kyrgios have been regular sparring partners since the latter rose to prominence on the ATP Tour, but the back and forth between the pair is becoming more and more personal.
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The Serbian superstar made his comments about Kyrgios on the eve of the Australian Open, and came after his Australian rival labelled him a ‘tool’ over his list of demands for player stuck in quarantine after arriving in Melbourne.
Asked about Djokovic’s comments after his straight sets victory over Frederico Silva in the first round, Kyrgios was his characteristically blunt self.
Chuckling and saying ‘here we go’ when Djokovic was brought up, Kyrgios said he was confused that the world No.1 respected him on the court, but not off it.
“It's a strange one for me," he said.
“I read his comments. He said he doesn't respect me off the court. I'm like, it actually would make complete sense to me if he was like, 'I don't respect the guy on the court', because I understand if he doesn't agree with some of my antics on the court that I've done in the past.
“(But) when we've played matches, I think I've been pretty good towards him. I'm not quite sure how you can't respect me off the court.
“I feel like I've gone about things extremely well, especially during the pandemic, I was driving around delivering food to people during the pandemic that couldn't get the supplies.
“I was extremely careful about what I was doing – I didn't want to spread the virus to anyone. Now, I'm actually trying to donate meal kits to people who need food. I have a foundation.”
Nick Kyrgios continues feud with Novak Djokovic
Kyrgios continued, arguing the main driving factor behind his disdain for Djokovic was the ill-fated Adria Tour he hosted in June 2020, which ultimately resulted him and several other top players contracting the coronavirus.
At a time when much of the world was focused on staying indoors and keeping distance from one another, Kyrgios said it was incredibly irresponsible for a high-profile figure like Djokovic to ignore medical advice and proceed with the tour.
“So it's very strange to me why he would say he doesn't respect me off the court – I actually do a lot off the court,” he said.
“But he's a very strange cat, Novak is. A heck of a tennis player but unfortunately someone who's partying with his shirt off during a global pandemic, I don't know if I can take any slack from that man. That's as bad as it gets for me.”
Kyrgios is set to face Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the second round of the Australian Open, while Djokovic will go up against American Frances Tiafoe.
Racquet-smashing Alexander Zverev is breathing easy again after surviving a huge fright to join fellow title hopeful Dominic Thiem in the second round as well.
Backing up after a draining ATP Cup campaign, Zverev had to battle back from a set down to deny American Marcos Giron the biggest scalp of his career on Monday.
The sixth seed punished his racquet to let off some steam as he battled to avoid dropping the first two sets in a tense 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-2 victory on Margaret Court Arena.
Zverev's escape followed Thiem's far more routine 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-3 win over Mikhail Kukushkin.
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