Tennis: Nick Kyrgios can’t cop Novak Djokovic’s disrespect

Nick Kyrgios added another chapter to his long-running feud with Novak Djokovic after the Serbian star said he didn’t respect the Aussie wild child off the court.

Kyrgios slammed Djokovic for his conduct during the pandemic. The criticism ramped up as the world No. 1 held an exhibition tournament without any social distancing measures midway through last year, resulting in him and his wife – among others – contracting COVID-19.

Djokovic said before the Australian Open kicked off Kyrgios was a talented player, but off the court, there wasn’t much to like.

Speaking after his straight sets win over Portugal’s Frederico Ferreira Silva, Kyrgios responded by saying: “It’s a strange one for me. I read his comments. He said he doesn’t respect me off the court.

“It actually would make complete sense to me if he was like, ‘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’ve done in the past.

“(But) when we’ve played matches, I think I’ve been pretty good towards him. I’m not quite sure how you can’t respect me off the court.”

Kyrgios referenced his own efforts during the coronavirus shutdown compared with those of Djokovic – who led a group of players around Europe as they defied health advice by playing in packed stadiums and partying in nightclubs.

“I feel like I’ve gone about things extremely well, especially during the pandemic,” Kyrgios said. “I was driving around delivering food to people during the pandemic that 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 who need food. I have a foundation.

“So it’s very strange to me why he would say he doesn’t respect me off the court – I actually do a lot off the court.

“But he’s a very strange cat, Novak is. A heck of a tennis player but unfortunately someone who’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 told about Kyrgios’ comments after beating Jeremy Chardy in straight sets, but chose not to respond. “Great,” is all he said.

Djokovic took just over 90 minutes to complete a demolition job Jeremy Chardy, wiping the Frenchman off the court 6-3 6-1 6-2.

He hit 41 winners and made just 11 enforced errors in a clinical performance as he racked up his 15th straight win at Melbourne Park.

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