Nick Kyrgios, Novak Djokovic celebration, injury, tennis news


He may have been knocked out of the Australian Open on Friday, but that won’t stop Nick Kyrgios from firing shots at world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

During Sunday afternoon’s doubles match against Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot on Margaret Court Arena, Kyrgios mimicked Djokovic’s trademark “heart-throwing” celebration.

The 25-year-old Australian gestured towards the imaginary crowd in Melbourne Park, a subtle dig at his Serbian rival.

“Just feeling the love. Just trying to spread the good word of the celebration. Everyone loves that celebration. It’s well liked,” Kyrgios said after the straight sets defeat.

“We just banter anyway. When we tweet or when we just do stuff, it’s for fun, you know, like you can’t take it all too seriously.

“We’re just having some fun. Novak, I’m sure, doesn’t like me and we both have respect for each other, but I don’t like him at all, so it’s fun.”

Djokovic was mocked by tennis pundits last year when he performed the celebration in front of an empty stands at the US Open in New York.

Kyrgios has publicly targeted Djokovic for several months since the Serbian’s controversial Adria Tour.

In July, Kyrgios called out the 17-time grand slam champion for his “stupidity” after launching the charity event without any social distancing measures.

It’s fair to say Djokovic hasn’t been the biggest fan of the Canberra athlete ever since.

“Off the court, I don’t have much respect for (Kyrgios), to be honest,” the Serbian said last week.

“That’s where I’ll close it. I really don’t have any further comments for him, his own comments for me or anything else he’s trying to do.”

Kyrgios responded to the remarks on Monday: “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.”

Kyrgios took another jab at Djokovic following Friday’s thrilling five-set victory over America’s Taylor Fritz.

Djokovic battled an abdominal “muscle tear” during the third round encounter, and needed a 10-minute medical timeout to be treated.

He didn’t attend training the following day as he awaited scans.

After the defeat, Fritz told reporters with tongue firmly in cheek: “When I hit a winner, he’d kind of, like, pull at it. He looked fine in the fifth.”

On Sunday morning, Fritz posted a thank you message to his Instagram followers: “Really tough way to go out at #ausopen so close to something big after fighting as hard as I could … Too tough from @djokernole in the end and I hope his injury is better soon.”

Kyrgios cheekily commented on the post: “Imma take a medical real quick Fritzy, I’ll be back in 2 hours.”

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Australian tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis also questioned the validity of Djokovic’s injury on Sunday.

“For me I have no idea what he’s feeling or what he’s going through. I just heard he thinks he has a torn muscle,” Kokkinakis said.

“I didn’t mean it in a bad way at all. I’m like, if he can recover from a torn muscle in two days, like hats off. Like teach me, yeah.

“But I don’t know, I just — because I knew some Serbian fans would take that in like a negative way, and I copped abuse for it, but it wasn’t even taking a shot at him.

“I’m just like, if he actually has a torn muscle and can recover in two days, that’s impressive, because I haven’t been able to do that and it’s taken me months.

“But obviously he’s a hell of a player, and yeah, I don’t know, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t play tonight. But yeah, I don’t know.”

Djokovic has been given the maximum amount of time to recover from a midriff muscle tear that left him grimacing on virtually every shot during Friday’s match.

“He is an interesting character. He seems to need other energies to be able to find ways to get through matches sometimes,” Australian great Todd Woodbridge said on Wide World of Sports’ The Morning Serve.

“When he gets through to the back end of tournaments, to these majors, he steels himself and it has a bit of a feeling of what we’ve seen before.

“He said it felt like a tear. If it’s a tear, well that does not heal quickly and if you go back out, there’s the potential you do more damage. So it’ll be a wait and see, but we’ve seen him come back and win from somewhat similar situations.”

The Serbian superstar, looking for a record-extending ninth Australian Open crown, will feature in the late-night match on Rod Laver Arena against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic on Sunday.

“I’m very proud,” Djokovic said after Friday’s match, which was halted midway through to eject fans ahead of a five-day coronavirus lockdown.

“At the same time, sad and worried, because it’s definitely something serious happening with my injury. I don’t have much time to recover for the next match.”

— with AFP



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