Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Ian Chadband and Anna Harrington

Fans should respect Djokovic: Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios has urged fans to show respect to Novak Djokovic in his hotly-anticipated Australian Open return but expects some will cross the line.

Nine-time champion Djokovic has lamented being treated as a "villain" during last year's deportation saga, which proved particularly polarising in Melbourne.

Ahead of chasing a 10th Melbourne Park crown, Djokovic has admitted a touch of uncertainty over not just his tight left hamstring, but also the reception he will receive from crowds.

Kyrgios is due to play an exhibition match against his Wimbledon final conqueror Djokovic on Friday night and could also meet the Serbian star in a mouth-watering Open quarter-final.

He called for fans to show their appreciation.

"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."

On Wednesday, Djokovic, who won his 92nd tournament title at the Adelaide International, reiterated 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 launched a staunch defence of his visa application before last year's Australian Open, insisting he did everything right and "just followed all the rules" before his dramatic deportation from the country.

In an interview with Channel Nine's Todd Woodbridge, Djokovic reignited questions about his treatment in 2022, saying: "Two or three more people that came into Australia 10 days before I did with exactly the same exemption that I had.

"I was just following the rules. My exemption was verified by an independent body and panel of doctors."

Craig Tiley came under fire as CEO of Tennis Australia and tournament director, being grilled about his handling of the Djokovic situation amid accusations the star had been misinformed about the criteria he needed to fulfil to enter the country as an unvaccinated visitor.

"I came in with all the valid papers. Everything got out of hand and then I was labelled this or that," said Djokovic.

"All of a sudden, I became the villain of the world which was obviously a terrible position to be in as an athlete and someone who is looking to thrive in his own direction of life and profession."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.