Nick Kyrgios outraged by Novak Djokovic treatment amid Australian Open drama

The Aussie tennis star has called for fans to respect the world No.1 amid an ugly clash with a fan at the Australian Open on Wednesday night

Nick Kyrgios pictured left and Novak Djokovic right
Nick Kyrgios has slammed the "jerk" who targeted Novak Djokovic with heckles at the Australian Open, throwing his support behind the world No.1 as he called for the abuse to stop. Image: Getty

Nick Kyrgios has thrown his support behind world No.1 Novak Djokovic after the Serb had an ugly clash with a heckler during his second round 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win over Aussie Alexei Popyrin. On Wednesday night the world No.1 took issue with what one Australian Open fan was shouting from the stands inside Rod Laver Arena and walked over to confront the heckler.

The Serb was heard shouting: "Come here and say it to my face". Post-match Djokovic didn't go into detail about what was exactly said to him but revealed he was being targeted at both ends of the court by the largely pro-Popyrin crowd.

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"There was a lot of things that were being told to me on the court, particularly from that corner, and the same side the other corner," he said. "I was tolerating it for most of the match. At one point, I had enough, and I asked him whether he wants to come down and tell it to my face.

"When you confront somebody, unfortunately for him, he didn't have the courage to come down. That's what I was asking him. If you have courage, if you're such a tough man, tough guy, come down and tell it to my face, and let's have a discussion about it. He was apologising from far away. That's all it is."

But Kyrgios believes the world No.1 being targeted is becoming somewhat of an ugly trend and he was furious with the "jerk" tormenting the Serb. Speaking from the Eurosport commentary box, Kyrgios said he would happily jump into the crowd and 'sort out' the menace. "There's always some jerk in the crowd who wouldn't say something to Novak's face," the Aussie said.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia points to a spectator during his second round match against Alexei Popyrin of Australia at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
Novak Djokovic points to a spectator hurtling abuse at him during his second round match against Alexei Popyrin at the Australian Open tennis. Image: (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

"There's always going to be people who don't like your success, I guess. It's a shame because all he does every year is come down here to Australia and give us world-class tennis. Absurd isn't it?"

In a light-hearted conversation with Kyrgios after the match, Djokovic asked the Aussie: "Did you like that, Kygs?" "I invited the guy to come and say it to my face, and he was saying a lot of nice things - and he was apologising from far away. All of a sudden there's an absence of courage when he needs to face me," Djokovic said.

To which Kyrgios replied: "When he was heckling you, Novak, I told everyone from the commentary box worldwide 'If you want me to jump into the crowd and sort him out, I've got your back 100 per cent, bro'." The response brought about a chuckle from Djokovic who responded: "I'll keep that in mind - thanks, Kygs".

Novak Djokovic says Australian Open hasn't had a good atmosphere

Following the second-round match Djokovic admitted that this year's Australian Open crowd hasn't been fun to play in front of as they constantly make noise and try to put him off. "I was feeling a lot of mixed emotions on the court - not a great atmosphere to play in, to be honest," he said.

"People were basically making noise between first and second serve the whole match. Of course, it annoys you but what really frustrates me is when somebody is heckling - so I confront them."

- with AAP

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