Tennis Australia's staggering move for Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic

The tennis rivals will go head-to-head in an exhibition match on Friday night before the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios, pictured here on the tennis court.
Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios will play an exhibition tennis match on Friday night before the Australian Open. Image: Getty

Tennis Australia has announced that Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic will go head-to-head in an exhibition match on Friday night before the Australian Open, revealing they will sell tickets for the event. It emerged last week that Djokovic had offered to play Kyrgios in a practice match after the Aussie withdrew from the United Cup and Adelaide International with an ankle injury.

Kyrgios will head to the Australian Open without playing a tour level singles match since October. However Djokovic has come to the Aussie's aid and offered him some much-needed match practice.

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On Monday, Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley revealed Kyrgios and Djokovic will play on Friday night in an exhibition match “extravaganza”. Tickets will be sold to the match at Rod Laver Arena, with all proceeds going to charity.

The match will be Djokovic's first at Melbourne Park since missing the Australian Open in 2022 when he was deported. Speaking after winning the Adelaide International on Sunday night, the Serbian star said he held no ill-will towards Australia.

Tiley said he hoped that sentiment was reciprocated from fans. "He really enjoyed the experience in South Australia and he was welcomed … he loved it there,” Tiley said.

“I love that our fans are sporting fans and are among the most educated and appreciate greatness. They appreciate players like Novak that have won this event nine times. Novak is back and I’m pretty confident that the Melbourne fans – similar to the experience he had in Adelaide – will be just as good.”

Kyrgios holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Djokovic in three career meeting at tour level. However Djokovic denied Kyrgios his maiden grand slam title in the Wimbledon final last year.

Meanwhile, the Kooying Classic's tournament director also revealed on Sunday that he'd happily find a match for Kyrgios if the Australian No.1 wanted to play. Peter Johnston told AAP: "We're still holding a candle for Nick. It couldn't be a more perfect setting for him if he wants a hit before the Open.

"There's always room for Nick. And don't forget Novak (Djokovic). We've already got a pretty solid line-up but Novak is also welcome."

Novak Djokovic in fine form ahead of Australian Open

Djokovic beat Sebastian Korda in the final in Adelaide on Sunday night for his 34th consecutive win in Australia. The last time he lost in the country was way back in 2018 when he went down to Hyeon Chung in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.

The World No.5 said the tournament was the perfect preparation for the first major of the year. "Absolutely. Five great matches," Djokovic said.

"The second round it was 7-6, 7-6 - tough two tiebreakers against (Quentin) Halys, who is playing very well. Then I had (Denis) Shapovalov, (Daniil) Medvedev and Korda, who is on fire, playing some high-level tennis, striking the ball amazingly.

"I couldn't ask for a better preparation and lead-up to Australian Open. I have a week off for recovery now and working on specific things in terms of my game, my body, getting my mind in the right state for the best-of-five and two long weeks hopefully."

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios, pictured here in the Wimbledon final in 2022.
Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios played in the Wimbledon final in 2022. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The Serbian star has put the deportation saga behind him and his his sights set on a 10th title at the Australian Open, which would see him go level with Rafa Nadal on 22 career majors.

"I don't hold any grudges," he said. "I told you I had far many more positive experiences in Australia to throw that away just because of what happened last year.

"I feel very comfortable with people, normal people, that follow sport, that I encounter on an everyday basis. I haven't had any negative experience so far. So every person that I met, whether it's in the city or in the woods - I actually met a few kangaroos as well, had a chat with them - everyone was very kind, very supportive."

with AAP

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