Sports, Tennis

Djokovic praises Kyrgios for support in tough times

Published : 05 Jan 2023 08:14 PM

Novak Djokovic said onThursday he wants to play a practice match against Nick Kyrgios ahead of theAustralian Open, the latest improvement in what was once an icy relationship.

Previously the pair rarely saw eye-to-eye, with the divisive Australian oncecalling the 21-time Grand Slam champion "a tool".

But their relations warmed when Kyrgios became one of the few players tooffer Djokovic support in his Australia deportation saga a year ago, relatedto his Covid vaccination status.

"I wasn't his favourite guy -- let's say it that way -- for many years,"Djokovic said in Adelaide, where he is preparing for the Australian Open. "But he was one of the very few that stood by me last year, and I respectthat and appreciate that. "In those moments you can actually see who truly supports you and who is byyour side and who goes with, I guess, the flow of the society and thepressures that media puts on you. "He was giving me undivided support in the moments where I was beingchallenged a lot, and him as an Australian, I respected that a lot. Sincethen, our relationship has changed for better."

It has changed so much that they are planning to practice together atMelbourne Park next week, as Kyrgios recovers from an ankle injury.

"Well, we are talking with the Australian Open about doing something in aweek prior to the start of the tournament," he said.

"Yes, I chatted with Nick, and I would like to play with him, and heaccepted, but he wants shorter sets. Let's see if that works out."