Nick Kyrgios slams treatment of Novak Djokovic despite rivalry

Mercurial tennis star Nick Kyrgios has slammed the reaction to the ongoing situation regarding Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation as the world number one desperately tries to fight against deportation from the country.

Djokovic argued he had a vaccine exemption allowing him to play in the Australian Open, but his exemption was only signed off by Tennis Australia, rather than the federal government.

Kyrgios took to Twitter to defend the Serb superstar, despite the animosity between the pair in the past.

“Look I definitely believe in taking action,” Kyrgios wrote. “I got vaccinated because of others and for my mum's health, but how we are handling Novak's situation is bad, really bad.

“Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”

The two have clashed before, with Kyrgios labelling Djokovic a ‘tool’ for suggesting quarantine improvements ahead of last year’s Australian Open. The 34-year-old responded by suggesting he doesn’t care for the Aussie off the court: “I don’t have much respect for him.”

The unlikely unity between Kyrgios and Djokovic highlights how the incident has divided the sporting world, with the world number one primed to miss the first Grand Slam of the new season.

The federal government intervened on Thursday to cancel Djokovic’s visa, which is needed to get into the country to compete in the Australian Open due to vaccination requirements.

Serbia’s foreign affairs minister, Daniel Emery, insisted Australia had acted in bad faith towards the tennis superstar – and suggested Djokovic was the victim of a political game.

“Starovic emphasised that the Serbian public has a strong impression that Djokovic is a victim of a political game against his will, and that he was lured to travel to Australia in order to be humiliated,” the statement from the foreign ministry said.

“Novak Djokovic is not a criminal, terrorist or illegal migrant, but he was treated that way by the Australian authorities, which causes understandable indignation of his fans and citizens of Serbia.”

A protest note was also sent by the Serbian government to its embassy in Canberra, following the visa decision.

Djokovic is now being held in an inner-north Melbourne hotel while he awaits a court challenge – which will be heard on Monday – to his visa cancellation. The hotel is also used to house asylum seekers, and Serbia's foreign ministry called on the federal government to grant Djokovic better accommodation.

Victoria's acting premier Jacinta Allan declared the state government was not informed by Tennis Australia that unvaccinated tennis players would not be allowed into the country.

Australian Open qualifying begins on January 10, with the full tournament kicking off a week later and concluding on January 30.

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