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Tennis news | Australian Open needs Novak Djokovic playing at all costs, says Nick Kyrgios

A little under a year after Novak Djokovic was banned from entering Australia due to his vaccine stance, the Serbian is set to play in the country’s biggest tennis tournament.

Without him, Nick Kyrgios says the Australian Open wouldn’t be much of a competition.

Djokovic’s inclusion in the tournament comes after his three-year ban was lifted and the vaccine mandate was removed.

Watch Nick Kyrgios, Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek in the World Tennis League from December 20-25. Every match streaming ad-free, live and exclusive on Stan Sport

Kyrgios, who went down to Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the 2022 tournament, was a supporter of Djokovic in the wake of his ban.

Despite their intense rivalry, the duo formed a “bromance” of sorts that peaked when they faced each other in the Wimbledon final this year.

Now, just under a month out from the 2023 Australian Open, the Canberran has thrown another wave of support behind the former world No.1.

“I think Novak needs to be playing at all costs,” Kyrgios told AFP, speaking at the World Tennis League in Dubai.

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“He’s one of the greatest of all time and as long as he’s going to be playing and hanging around, we need him at these tournaments.”

Djokovic’s stance on vaccination ultimately ruled him out of the US Open, opening the door for teen Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz to win and subsequently become the world’s highest ranked male.

Alcaraz, who will play in the forthcoming Australian Open, is the youngest world No.1 in ATP history.

Despite Djokovic’s slump, Kyrgios suggested defeating him is still one of the toughest tasks in world tennis and adds weight to winning the biggest grand slams.

“I think, as a competitor, I want to see him there,” said Kyrgios of Djokovic.

“And if I win a tournament — if you don’t go through Novak, then you kind of know the tournament isn’t really a tournament.”

Djokovic overcomes Kyrgios in Wimbledon finale

The long-awaited grudge match between Kyrgios and Djokovic was set to play out at the World Tennis League.

However, the 35-year-old said he was not feeling fit enough to take to the court and subsequently pulled out.

Kyrgios said he was keen to “have some fun” with Djokovic in their first meeting since Wimbledon.

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