Nick Kyrgios' message to Australian Open fans about booing Novak Djokovic

The Aussie tennis star has made a classy plea to Australian Open fans about Novak Djokovic.

Seen left to right are tennis stars Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic.
Nick Kyrgios has pleaded with Australian Open fans not to disrespect Novak Djokovic. Pic: Getty

Nick Kyrgios has pleaded with Australian Open fans to treat nine-time champion Novak Djokovic with the respect he deserves, despite admitting that he expects some fans to cross the line in their behaviour towards the Serbian superstar. Djokovic is somewhat of a polarising figure in Australia after last year's messy vaccination saga that saw him deported from the country.

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has already warned fans that if hey 'taunt' Djokovic about the 2022 controversy they will be removed from Melbourne Park. In an interview this week, Djokovic lamented being treated as a "villain" during last year's deportation saga, with his situation particularly polarising for the Victorian public.

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Djokovic, who won his 92nd tournament at the recent Adelaide International, was full of praise for the reception he got from fans in South Australia but admitted it could be a different story at the Australian Open. "I don't know [about Melbourne], but I hope positive. I really hope the crowd will be receiving me well," he said.

"That's something that I can't predict, I don't know. It's in their hands I guess. I'll try and do my best to perform well, to have the relationship and behave as I always have and try to be a good ambassador of the sport, and hopefully that can be recognised in a good way."

Kyrgios - who is set to play the Serb in a sold-out practice match on Rod Laver Arena on Friday night - urged fans to show their respect towards a man he described as one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. Kyrgios has been drawn in the same quarter as the 21-time grand slam champion and could meet the 35-year-old as early as the last-eight, if both players progress that far.

Djokovic is vying for a record-extending 10th Australian Open crown that would also see him draw level with Rafael Nadal's all-time men's record of 22 major singles titles. Kyrgios says the Serb - who defeated him in last year's Wimbledon final - had done more than enough to earn the respect of tennis fans.

"He's abided by the last two years of whatever has been dealt his way and he's here and all he wants to do is put on a show," Kyrgios told reporters. "He's chasing things that athletes rarely are able to chase. He's one of the greatest athletes of all time, not just in the tennis court.

"I know that there's going to be fans that are not going to want him to win but I think they can't cross that line as fans. You guys have paid money to watch a guy play. It's a bit contradictory if you're gonna go there and be a clown about it.

"You've got to respect him a little bit at the end of the day, because he's one of the best to ever do it. But look, I know there's going to be fans that are gonna cross the line anyway."

Pictured left to right, Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic.
Nick Kyrgios says he hopes Australian Open fans treat Novak Djokovic with the respect he deserves. Pic: Getty/Ch9

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios to play exhibition match

Djokovic, who won his 92nd tournament title at the Adelaide International, said the reception he'd received in South Australia had been fantastic, but added: "I don't know (about Melbourne), but I hope positive. I really hope the crowd will be receiving me well.

"That's something that I can't predict, I don't know. It's in their hands I guess. I'll try and do my best to perform well, to have the relationship and behave as I always have and try to be a good ambassador of the sport, and hopefully that can be recognised in a good way."

Djokovic goes into Friday's exhibition match against Kyrgios with a slight question mark over one of his hamstrings after withdrawing from a practice match against Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday after losing the first set. Aussie great Todd Woodbridge said he was told in an interview with the Serb that it was nothing too serious, and his withdrawal was merely a precautionary measure.

Woodbridge was also worried about the reception that Djokovic would receive from some fans, and insisted that those out to stir up trouble were not welcome at Melbourne Park. He says the adversity against the Serb and the drama from last year only makes him an even more dangerous proposition at this year's grand slam.

"There will be some outliers that are going to try to make a name for themselves but they're not really welcome," Woodbridge said. Everybody else wants to see him play his best tennis. He's playing superb. He has a point to prove in the sense that he is chasing down Rafa (Nadal's all-time men's record of 22 grand slam titles).

"Because he didn't get down here last year, Rafa won the tournament, got in front of him. He pulled it back at Wimbledon (by beating Kyrgios in the final). That's what this is about. Nadal is very much in his mind."

with AAP

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