Nick Kyrgios threw his support behind “alienated” Novak Djokovic and criticised a lack of backing from other players, as the world number one faced a decisive court hearing Sunday on the eve of the Australian Open.
Kyrgios—who is set to play in the Grand Slam despite testing positive for Covid last week—was previously one of the Serbian’s staunchest critics and once labelled him a “tool” over his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the divisive Australian surprisingly came to his defence after the unvaccinated Djokovic was held in immigration detention on his arrival in Australia, blasting his treatment as “really bad”.
Djokovic is currently embroiled in a final bid to avoid deportation over his anti-Covid-vaccine views, just a day before the Australian Open, where he would be aiming for a 10th title.
“Novak has reached out to me personally on IG (Instagram) saying ‘Thank you for standing up for me’,” Kyrgios said on his ‘No Boundaries’ podcast.
“I was not the one he was expecting to go out in the media and have his back.
“As a human, he’s obviously feeling quite alienated in all of this,” he added.
“As a human, that’s a dangerous place to be in — when you feel like the world is against you, like you can’t do anything right.”
Kyrgios, who arrived in Melbourne to compete at the tournament after spending a week in isolation with Covid, said more players should be backing the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“Imagine how he’s feeling. He probably just wants a little bit of support now from other players,” he said. “Hey bro, he’s getting it from me.”
Several players on Saturday said they were growing tired of the Djokovic visa saga overshadowing the opening Grand Slam of the year with Rafael Nadal declaring no one was bigger than the tournament.
Kyrgios’ support of Djokovic is an extraordinary turnaround after waging a running battle with him over recent years, sparked by Djokovic’s ill-fated Adria Tour exhibition in 2020 as the pandemic raged.
The Australian lashed his “stupidity” when social-distancing guidelines were flouted, which led to multiple cases of coronavirus.
And last year, Kyrgios dismissed the Serbian as a “tool” after he issued a list of demands for quarantined players who arrived on charter flights for the Australian Open.