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Australian Open: Nick Kyrgios wary of facing 'determined' Novak Djokovic if Serbian's visa appeal is successful

Kyrgios believes reigning Australian Open champion Djokovic will still be a tough opponent even with heavily-affected preparation if he is eventually allowed to play in this year's tournament. "I think this is just all added fuel for him, in my opinion," Kyrgios said

Nick Kyrgios, of Australia, rests between games against Roberto Bautista Agut, of Spain, during the first round of the US Open tennis championships, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Image: Nick Kyrgios expects Novak Djokovic will still be a tough opponent if he is cleared to play in the Australian Open

Nick Kyrgios is keen to avoid being drawn to face a fired-up Novak Djokovic if the reigning Australian Open champion manages to convince authorities to allow him to play at this year's tournament.

The Serbian, a nine-time Australian Open winner, is currently isolating in Melbourne awaiting the outcome of his appeal against the decision by the Australian Border Force to cancel his entry visa and deport him.

Nevertheless, Kyrgios said he expects the upheaval will have little bearing on Djokovic's preparedness for the first major event of the season if the 34-year-old's appeal is successful when it is heard on Monday.

"If he's allowed to play the Australian Open, I don't want any bar of him," Kyrgios told reporters at Sydney's Olympic Park on Saturday, ahead of next week's Sydney Tennis Classic.

"He's going to be very determined to play well and stick it to everyone of what's going on - and I don't want any bar of that Novak.

"I think he'll have no problem preparing. I think this is just all added fuel for him, in my opinion.

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Sky News reporter Nicole Johnston in Melbourne explains the latest on Novak Djokovic's medical exemption

"We all know how good of a competitor he is. You don't become a great champion like that without being able to overcome some adversity like this."

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Kyrgios has emerged as an unlikely ally for Djokovic, with the pair sharing an uneasy relationship since clashing ahead of last year's Australian Open over quarantining conditions.

The 26-year-old Australian expressed his belief the process could have been handled better and sympathised with the situation Djokovic is in.

"It's a bit of a mess with what's going on, and I just don't think we have gone about it the right way," Kyrgios said.

"I hope it all gets sorted as soon as possible. For the sport we need him here, it's that simple. He's one of the most influential sports people, probably of all time.

"If he's ready to play and he's allowed to play, I think it's in a way good for our sport with all this attention because probably the Australian Open won't have as many views as it's ever probably had if he's able to play.

"I'm feeling for him now. Like it's not really humane, is it, what's going on? His life's probably hard enough as it is, and I know what that's like. I just hope it all gets sorted soon."

Novak Djokovic - Sequence of events

January 4 - Djokovic announces he will be travelling to Australia with an 'exemption permission'.
January 5 - While Djokovic is airborne, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the athlete will be on the "next plane home" if he cannot provide "acceptable proof" that his exemption is legitimate.
Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford highlights that the local government of Victoria, where the Australian Open is held, will not support Djokovic's visa application.
The world No 1 arrives at Melbourne Airport around 11.30pm local time.
January 6 - Around 3.15am, Djokovic's father reports that his son is being held in isolation in Melbourne Airport.
At 5am, Goran Ivanisevic releases an image on social media of himself and another member of Djokovic's team seemingly waiting for the world No 1. The post is captioned, ‘Not the most usual trip Down Under’.
Around 8.15am local time, Djokovic's visa is confirmed to have been denied by the Australian Border Force.
Djokovic is moved to quarantine hotel while his legal team appeal visa cancellation.
The appeal against his visa cancellation is adjourned until Monday morning Australian time.
January 7 - Australia Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says Djokovic is "free to leave any time" and is not being detained.
Djokovic breaks silence in Instagram post on Friday, thanking his fans for their "continuous support".
January 8 - Submission from Djokovic's lawyers on Saturday reveals positive Covid-19 test in December.

Djokovic's Aussie Open debacle: What's happened?

Djokovic flew to Australia with a 'vaccine exemption' and arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday, but was ultimately denied entry into the country after nine hours at the airport.

The Serb's visa was one that did not allow for medical exemptions and was cancelled, after which he was moved to hotel quarantine as his team launched an appeal - this appeal has been adjourned until Monday.

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