• Jason Regan

Kyrgios says Djokovic deserves better

Nick Kyrgios has long been one of Novak Djokovic's harshest critics, but the Australian star says the world No.1 deserves better treatment than the humiliation he's enduring right now.

Sometimes support can come from unlikely sources with Nick Kyrgios calling out the online abuse directed towards Novak Djokovic. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Kyrgios, who isn't playing in this week's Australian Open lead-up tournaments due to illness, defended Djokovic, who is locked up in hotel quarantine in Melbourne and facing deportation after arriving in Australia without a proper medical exemption from vaccination.

Kyrgios, who is currently ranked world No.93, is pro-vaccination but called the situation "really bad".

"Look I definitely believe in taking action, I got vaccinated because of others and for my mum's health, but how we are handling Novak's situation is bad, really bad," the 26-year-old tweeted. 

Kyrgios blasted the Serbian superstar in 2020 for his ill-fated Adria tour, calling it a "bone-headed decision" and then described him as a "tool" after the nine-time Open champion's comments about quarantine last year.

But Kyrgios said late last year he felt it was "morally wrong" to force people like Djokovic to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The controversial Kyrgios is not the first player to throw his support behind Djokovic.

Anti-vaxxing two-time Open champion Tennys Sandgren on Thursday said Australia didn't deserve to host a grand slam after following its clumsy handling of the Djokovic saga.

Meanwhile, Djokovic's wife Jelena on Friday used social media to express her gratitude to her husband's legion of fans. In Instagram and Twitter posts marking Christmas in Serbia, Jelena Djokovic wrote: "Thank you, dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband.

"I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening.
"The only law that we should all respect across every single border is love and respect for another human being."

Supporters of Serbia's Novak Djokovic protest and sing with candles outside a quarantine facility in Melbourne. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

A small crowd of protesters gathered on Friday outside of Djokovic's Melbourne hotel, which also houses about 30 refugees. At a protest and press conference in Belgrade Djokovic's father, Srdjan claimed the 20-time grand slam winner had been "crucified" by Australian authorities.

"He met all the required conditions for the entry and participation at the tournament that he would have certainly won, since it's Novak, the best tennis player and sportsman in the world," Djokovic senior said.
"Jesus was crucified and endured many things, but is still alive among us. Novak is also crucified... He will endure."