Nick Kyrgios: Australian Open lucky to have Novak Djokovic back

Nick Kyrgios has welcomed Novak Djokovic's Australian Open return, saying "no tournament is full-strength" without having the "best player in the world" in it.

Djokovic missed his Australian Open title defence at the start of this year as he was deported from the country after his visa was withdrawn due to his unvaccinated status, which resulted in an automatic three-year visa ban. He also missed the North American hard-court swing, including the US Open, as unvaccinated foreigners were not allowed to enter the United States and Canada.

However, he will return to Melbourne Park next year as his visa ban has been overturned and Kyrgios, for one, is delighted that the "best player in the world" will feature in the season-opening Grand Slam.

"He's healthy, ready to play and put on a show for our fans and for our country - we're very lucky to have him," the Australian said.

"Look, he's the best player in the world in my opinion.

"I'm glad we're welcoming him back to come in and show what a great tennis player he is.

"I feel like no tournament is a full-strength tournament without Novak Djokovic in it.

"Novak, [retired Roger] Federer and [Australian and French champion Rafael] Nadal, they were always the three-headed monster everybody wanted to beat."

Kyrgios and Djokovic had never been the best of friends on the ATP Tour, with the former describing the Serbian as "fake" during an interview in 2019, adding "I just can't stand him".

However, the 27-year-old defended Djokovic earlier this year when the Serbian came under fire over his unvaccinated status and they developed a bromance in their run to the Wimbledon final with the Serbian going on to win in three sets.

Kyrgios says there was always a mutual respect and he gained respect when he defended Djokovic during his Australian troubles.

"The media tends to set the tone and they kinda created a narrative we didn't really like each other," he said.

"But Novak knows I was the only person to really stand up for him when a real-life issue occurred.

"I feel like the respect, that when someone does that for you, when they talk about you and stand up for you in front of a whole nation, that's when respect's gained, not on how you behave on a tennis court towards each other."

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