Nick Kyrgios has urged Australian Open officials to allow Novak Djokovic to compete at Melbourne Park next year, after the Serbian’s controversial exclusion nine months ago.
Djokovic was at the centre of a diplomatic storm back in January, when he was deported for not complying with the vaccination restrictions that were in place back then.
The 21-time Grand Slam winner, who was unvaccinated against Covid-19, had his visa cancelled twice after arriving in Australia ahead of the Australian Open.
Nick Kyrgios has urged Australian Open organisers to allow Novak Djokovic to compete in the tournament after Serb was banned this year because of his Covid-19 status
And Kyrgios expressed his desire to see Djokovic allowed to challenge for a record 10th singles title at Melbourne Park next year.
‘I hope he’s here, for the sport, we just saw one of the legends leave the sport – Roger [Federer] – and that’s some shoes no one is ever going to fill,’ the Australian told the Herald Sun on Friday.
‘So I think while Novak and Rafa [Nadal] are still around, we need these type of players to be at the Grand Slams.
‘People of Australia, we love the Australian Open, Ash Barty brought us a crown, me and Thanasi [Kokkinakis] have won it, we want to see the best players in the world there.’
Djokovic was detained by Border Force upon his arrival at Melbourne Airport in January
His visa was cancelled, reinstated and eventually cancelled again before he was deported
The Serbian is subject to a three-year ban after he was deported from the country in January
Kyrgios lost to Djokovic in his maiden Grand Slam final, with the Serb prevailing in four sets at Wimbledon in July.
The Serb was absent at the US Open where Kyrgios was knocked out in the quarter-finals and his chances of triumphing in Melbourne would increase were Djokovic to be banned from competing.
But the Aussie insisted he would much rather face the former world No 1 instead.
‘Me being a competitor, I want to see Novak there,’ he added.
The Serb clinched a record-equalling 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July
‘He is some of the reason I play, as a kid you want play the best players in the world in the best stadiums.
‘Hopefully he is there, I know he’s had a rough run the last nine months, not being able to play here. Hopefully Australia welcomes him with open arms this time.’
Earlier this week, Djokovic said he had been given ‘positive signs’ that he will be allowed to enter Australia and compete in the Australian Open.
The Serbian, whose ban was imposed along with his deportation for his potential to cause ‘civil unrest’ as a ‘talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’, said these indications were on an ‘unofficial’ basis.
Kyrgios lost to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final but said he hoped to compete against him at the Australian Open in January next year
The Serb prevailed in four sets at the All-England Club in Kyrgios’ maiden Grand Slam final
He added that he should have confirmation in ‘the next few weeks’ of whether he will be allowed in.
The nine-times Melbourne champion told Serbian website Sportal: ‘When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially.
‘We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case.
‘I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever that answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one – so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia.
The 21-time Grand Slam winner said earlier this week he was hopeful of competing in the Australian Open in January
‘I really want to go there, I am over what happened this year and I just want to play tennis, it is what I do best.
‘Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis, the results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more so.
‘I am hoping for a positive answer.’