Nick Kyrgios says he is puzzled why Novak Djokovic cannot respect him off the court
Nick Kyrgios calls Novak Djokovic a "very strange cat" after the Serb said he has little respect for the Australian off the court; Kyrgios says he has done a lot during the coronavirus pandemic, including donating meal kits
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 09/02/21 11:13am
Nick Kyrgios says he is puzzled why Novak Djokovic cannot respect him off the court following recent comments the world No 1 made about him before the start of the Australian Open.
Djokovic has said Kyrgios was good for tennis, and a talent that could beat any player on his day, but he was not someone the Serb admired away from the game.
Kyrgios, a long-time critic of Djokovic, labelled him a "tool" on social media last month after Djokovic sent Australian Open organisers a list of requests from players seeking to have quarantine restrictions eased during their mandatory two-week isolation.
The 25-year-old also criticised Djokovic last year after a number of players taking part in his Adria Tour - including Djokovic himself - tested positive for coronavirus.
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Kyrgios, who cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva, is undergoing a rebrand after he put in place new management.
His public support for communities hit hard by Australia's horrendous bushfires last year endeared him to a wider audience than fans of the game.
He said: "It's a strange one for me. It actually would make complete sense to me if he was like, look, I don't respect the guy on the court, because I understand if he doesn't agree with some of my antics on the court that I have done in the past.
"When we've played matches I think I've actually been pretty good towards him. But I'm not quite sure how he can't respect me off the court.
"I feel like I've gone about things extremely well, especially during the pandemic. I was driving around delivering food to people during the pandemic that didn't or couldn't get the supplies. I was extremely careful about what I was doing. I didn't want to spread the virus to anyone.
"Now I'm actually trying to donate meal kits to people that need food. I have my foundation. So it's very strange to me as why he would say he doesn't respect me off the court. I actually do a lot off the court.
"But, yeah, he's a very strange cat, Novak is. Heck of a tennis player, but unfortunately someone that's partying with his shirt off during a global pandemic, I don't know if I can take any slack from that man. That's as bad as it gets for me."
Djokovic was offered the chance of another reply in his press call, but chose not to respond.
He said: "You can read (what he said), but I'm not going to answer to anything."
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There were some vintage Kyrgios moments - a racket thrown across the court, a few choice words towards his box and a few more at the umpire as well as a trademark tweener.
"Honestly it was pretty average. I haven't played a Grand Slam match in over a year. I was very nervous walking out here and I knew I wouldn't be able to play my best game," Kyrgios said after the match.
"I was very fortunate that COVID didn't affect me or my family. I used it as a massive reset and I'm just glad to be back out here."