Nick Kyrgios Fires Back After Novak Djokovic Says He Doesn't ‘Have Much Respect’ for Tennis Player

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Maria Pasquini
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Chris Hyde/Getty; GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Nick Kyrgios, Novak Djokovic

Nick Kyrgios is calling out Novak Djokovic.

Speaking to reporters on Monday following his first Australian Open match, which he won in straight sets, the Australian tennis player, 25, was asked to comment on Djokovic's recent criticism of him.

The previous day, the Serbian star, 33, told reporters that while he thinks Kyrgios is a "very talented guy ... off the court, I don't have much respect for him."

"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," Djokovic added.

Last month, Kyrgios publicly called Djokovic a "tool" in response to a letter the athlete sent to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, in which he suggested easing quarantine restrictions for players. (Djokovic later issued a statement claiming his "good intentions" had been "misconstrued.")

Kyrgios was also critical of the controversial tennis event Djokovic organized last year, which was canceled after several players, including Djokovic, tested positive for COVID-19.

"Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the 'exhibition' speedy recovery fellas, but that's what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE," Kyrgios wrote on Twitter at the time.

Graham Denholm/Getty Nick Kyrgios

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While addressing reporters on Monday, Kyrgios said that Djokovic's comments didn't make sense to him.

"It's a strange one for me," Kyrgios said. "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 I'm not quite sure how he can't respect me off the court. I feel like I've gone about things extremely well, especially during the pandemic," he continued. "I was driving around delivering food to people during the pandemic that didn't or couldn't get the supplies. I was extremely careful about what I was doing. I didn't want to spread the virus to anyone.

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Although he credited the Serbian athlete with being a "heck of a tennis player," Kyrgios said he wasn't sure he could take Djokovic's criticism seriously given his own off-court behavior.

"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," he said. "That's as bad as it gets for me."

Kyrgios will next face off tomorrow against France's Ugo Humbert while Djokovic's second round match will be American Frances Tiafoe.