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Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios plan Australian Open warm-up clash

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios are eyeing an exhibition match before the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios are eyeing an exhibition match before the Australian Open. Photo: AP

Nick Kyrgios hopes to lean on foe-turned-friend Novak Djokovic for invaluable Australian Open match practice, but on one condition.

Djokovic confirmed on Thursday he’s planning to play the Australian in a practice match in Melbourne, although Kyrgios has requested they play shorter sets.

It would likely be Kyrgios’s only action before the year’s first major, the Australian a controversial late withdrawal from the maiden United Cup with an ankle injury.

“We are talking with the Australian Open about doing something in a week prior to the start of the tournament,” Djokovic confirmed after booking a quarter-final berth at the Adelaide International 1.

“Yes, I chatted with Nick, and I would like to play with him, and he accepted, but he wants shorter sets. Let’s see if that works out.”

Djokovic, a nine-time winner at Melbourne Park, said the spectacle would be part of the new Tennis Australia initiative that includes ticketed practice matches on Rod Laver Arena before the main event begins on January 16.

“I’m happy if that will be organised; we’re still not having 100 per cent confirmation, but I think most likely will happen with Nick, so I’m looking forward to that,” Djokovic said.

The world No.22 lost to Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon final, the 21-time major title winner declaring “it’s officially a bromance” after softening the Australian during a pre-final practice session where it was decided the winner would pay for dinner.

Kyrgios, who had previously called Djokovic a “tool” and mocked his post-match celebrations, defended him amid his deportation from Australia before the 2022 tournament over his unvaccinated status.

“I wasn’t his favourite guy, let’s take it that way, for many years,” conceded Djokovic, who could also play doubles with Kyrgios later this year.

“But he was one of the very few that stood by me last year, and I respect that and appreciate that.

“In those moments you can actually see who truly supports you and who is by your side and who goes with the flow of the society and the pressures that media puts on you.

“He was giving me undivided support in the moments where I was being challenged a lot, and him as an Australian, I respected that a lot.

“Since then, our relationship has changed for the better.”

-AAP

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