Fuming Kyrgios crowd boo after Novak Djokovic pulls out at last minute

Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic beats Kyrgios in final in July

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Spectators did not hold back after learning Novak Djokovic would not face off against Nick Kyrgios in the highlight match of the World Tennis League on Wednesday. The former world No. 1 failed to suit up for the singles showdown as he ‘didn’t feel 100 per cent fit to play’.

The inaugural edition of the Dubai tournament has attracted plenty of attention as four teams featuring some of the world’s top players have squared off in singles and doubles formats. However, there could be no denying Djokovic’s much-anticipated duel against Kyrgios was the main draw on the schedule.

So it was no surprise to hear boos at the Coca-Cola Arena after it was announced Djokovic wouldn’t clash against Kyrgios after all. Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov instead took the Serb’s place and overcame Kyrgios in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-3.

“Novak Djokovic won’t play tonight against Nick Kyrgios,” tweeted tennis journalist Jose Morgado in Dubai. “He is on court supporting his team, but says he isn’t feeling [well]. It’s Grigor Dimitrov against the Aussie so we won’t have a rematch from the Wimbledon final. Crowd… isn’t happy as expected. It’s packed today.”

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‘Nole’ could be seen joking with team-mate Aryna Sabalenka and Team Falcons coach Younes El Aynaoui on the bench during Dimitrov’s win. The crowd, however, were in no laughing mood and made their feelings felt after turning up in their thousands to watch a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final.

Fans took to social media to share their thoughts and attempt to determine the reason why Djokovic had withdrawn from the biggest match of the competition. Other Djokovic loyalists defended the 35-year-old’s right to pull out of the ‘friendly’ fixture, however, suggesting it wasn’t worth the potential risk of exacerbating any ongoing issues.

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The nine-time Australian Open champion is set for a sensational return to Melbourne in January after his unvaccinated status saw him deported from the major’s most recent edition. Victory next month would see Djokovic pull back level with Rafael Nadal on 22 Grand Slam titles apiece.

Kyrgios will also look to feature in that title conversation after losing to Djokovic in his major final debut earlier this year. The Canberran clinched the Australian Open doubles crown alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis at the beginning of 2022 and will hope to follow up the most productive year of his career to date with a sizzling start to 2023.

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