Nick Kyrgios wasn’t too happy about Novak Djokovic saying he had “little respect for him off the court,” and argued that he wouldn’t take criticism from someone “who’s partying with his shirt off during a pandemic”.
“My respect goes to him for the tennis he’s playing. I think he is a very talented guy,” the World No 1 had told reporters on Sunday. “He has got a big game. He has proven that he has a quality to beat any player really in the world in the past.
“Off the court, I don’t have much respect for him, to be honest. That’s where I’ll close it.”
Kyrgios, who is only playing his second tournament in 12 months, had it easy enough on court as he defeated Portugal’s Frederico Silva 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday.
But after the match the 25-year-old was asked about Djokovic’s comments.
“It’s a strange one for me,” Kyrgios said.
“I read his comments. He said he doesn’t respect me off the court. I’m like, 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) when we’ve played matches, I think I’ve been pretty good towards him. I’m not quite sure how you can’t respect me off the court.”
The Australian drew attention to his philanthropic work and the community efforts he undertook during the pandemic.
“I feel like I’ve gone about things extremely well, especially during the pandemic, I was driving around delivering food to people during the pandemic that couldn’t get the supplies,” he said.
“I was extremely careful about what I was doing – I didn’t want to spread the virus to anyone. Now, I’m actually trying to donate meal kits to people who need food. I have a foundation.
“So it’s very strange to me why he would say he doesn’t respect me off the court – I actually do a lot off the court.
“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. That’s as bad as it gets for me.”
Kyrgios has been at loggerheads with Djokovic, especially since the pandemic began. After the Serb sent a list of suggestions to Australian Open tournament director to improve training and living conditions for the 72 players forced in strict quarantine, Kyrgios had called him a ‘tool’.