It took less than 60 minutes for Nick Kyrgios' upcoming exhibition match against Novak Djokovic to sell out - and even less for the world No.21 to take yet another swipe at his critics as a result. Friday night's clash at Rod Laver Arena saw tickets told for $20, with proceeds going to the Australian Tennis Foundation.
Kyrgios looms as a massive drawcard at the Australian Open this year, coming off his best season on tour in 2022 and entering the grand slam as Australia's highest ranked singles player. He has also been featured heavily in promotional material for the upcoming Netflix documentary series Break Point.
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The 27-year-old's renewed popularity has resulted in Kyrgios regularly hitting back at critics from his past. After copping criticism for years, with many suggestions Kyrgios' brash attitude was bad for the sport, the Canberra native says the tables have turned.
Upon seeing the news of the exhibition selling out in a mere 58 minutes, Kyrgios took to Twitter to sarcastically suggest he was continuing to bring the sport down. "Wow Nick Kyrgios is bad for the sport! Wow what a disgrace, a national embarrassment! How dare he sell out another stadium, the arrogance," he wrote.
It comes after he and Djokovic seem to have buried the hatchet once and for all, after a notoriously antagonistic relationship in years past. Kyrgios once claimed he had no respect for Djokovic, claiming he tried too hard to be liked by tennis fans around the globe.
However the pair's showdown in last year's Wimbledon final would appear to have marked a final thawing in their previously icy relationship. Having been critical of Djokovic early in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyrgios later defended the Serbian star when he was deported from Australia prior to the 2022 Australian Open.
Wow Nick Kyrgios is bad for the sport! Wow what a disgrace, a national embarrassment! How dare he sell out another stadium, the arrogance https://t.co/Sn37U2nAjv
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 10, 2023
Novak Djokovic credits Nick Kyrgios for renewed relationship
Djokovic admitted during the Adelaide International that the relationship between himself and Kyrgios had been far from ideal in years past. But he too, believes last year's Wimbledon final, combined with Kyrgios' support throughout the pandemic, had shown a marked change in their relationship.
“I wasn’t his favourite guy – let’s say it that way – for many years,” Djokovic said. “But he was one of the very few that stood by me last year, and I respect that and appreciate that.
“In those moments you can actually see who truly supports you and who is by your side and who goes with, I guess, the flow of the society and the pressures that media puts on you.
“He was giving me undivided support in the moments where I was being challenged a lot, and him as an Australian, I respected that a lot. Since then, our relationship has changed for better.”
Kyrgios has thus far been unable to compete in any warm-up competition prior to the Australian Open due to a nagging ankle injury. He was a late withdrawal both from Australia's United Cup entry, as well as the Adelaide International.
His absence from the United Cup sparked a days-long verbal sparring match with team captain Lleyton Hewitt, with whom Kyrgios has clashed with before. Kyrgios openly took aim at Hewitt's comments about his withdrawal following top women's player Ajla Tomljanovic withdrawing on short notice.
After being criticised for his own withdrawal earlier in the week, Kyrgios took to Twitter to question whether or not Cup co-captain Sam Stosur would call out Tomljanovic, as he felt Hewitt had done to him.
"I wonder if Stosur will throw her under the bus like our captain did for me….. ‘hard to prepare when you don’t know what’s going on’" Kyrgios wrote on Twitter. Hewitt had made the comment about not knowing who would be playing following Kyrgios' announcement on Wednesday.
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