Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Novak Djokovic, calling him “a very strange cat”, after the men’s world number one said that he had little respect for the Australian off-court.
The Serb said he had mixed feelings about Kyrgios, whose tennis abilities he respected but not his behaviour off-court.
Kyrgios responded to Djokovic’s comments, describing him as “a very strange cat”, and added that it would have made sense if the Serb didn’t agree with his on-court antics.
“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,” Kyrgios said.
“I’m not quite sure how you can’t respect me off the court.”
“I feel like I’ve gone about things extremely well, especially during the pandemic,” he said.
Kyrgios, who had chosen to stay away from the game last year due to COVID-19, said he delivered food to people in need and followed protocols, by opting out of the US and French Opens during the pandemic.
The 25-year-old then added that he won’t take advice from “someone who’s partying with his shirt off during a global pandemic”.
“I actually do a lot off the court,” he said. “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.”
The Australian has locked horns with the 17-time grand slam champion since last year’s ill-fated Adria Tour which Djokovic had organised amid the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibition event came under heavy criticism for not enforcing social distancing norms and other COVID-19 protocols, as players were seen partying at a nightclub and playing basketball. The Serb and a few other players tested positive for the coronavirus soon after the event was cancelled.
Kyrgios had earlier called the men’s top-ranked player a “tool” over his list of demands ahead of the Australian Open and also lambasted him for having “an obsession with wanting to be liked”.