Pat Cash slams practice match between Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic

Pat Cash accuses tennis chiefs of ‘bending over backwards’ for Nick Kyrgios after ‘extraordinary’ decision to stage practice match against Novak Djokovic

  • Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic will play an exhibition match on Friday
  • Tickets for the showdown at the Rod Laver Arena sold out in 58 minutes
  • Pat Cash slammed Tennis Australia for organising the event before Aussie Open 
  • He claimed Wimbledon and French Open would never stage exhibition matches
  • Click here for all your latest international sports news at Daily Mail Australia 

Pat Cash has launched a blistering attack against Tennis Australia, accusing them of ‘bending over backwards’ to set up an exhibition match between Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic ahead of the Australian Open.

Over 14,000 fans will fill the Rod Laver Arena on Friday for the rematch of the 2022 Wimbledon final, with the Aussie firebrand making his long-awaited return from injury. 

Tickets for what Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley described as an ‘arena extravaganza’ sold out in just 58 minutes on Tuesday, with all sales going to the Australian Tennis Foundation, Tennis Australia and the Australian Open’s official charity.

Nick Kyrgios (left) and Novak Djokovic (right) will play an exhibition match at Rod Laver Arena on Friday with ticket sales going to charity 

But Cash said the decision to organise a practice match at the Rod Laver Arena on the eve of the Australian Open defied belief. 

‘It’s actually hard to believe Tennis Australia is putting on an event, on Centre Court, for Nick [Kyrgios] and [Novak]Djokovic,’ the 1987 Wimbledon champion said on SEN’s Sportsday on Wednesday. 

‘In what country, in what Grand Slam [would this happen]? Would you have Wimbledon suddenly pulling out Centre Court or Court No1 because Andy Murray needed a practice match?

‘It’s hard to believe, they certainly wouldn’t do it at the French Open. There’s kids day and whatever and you go and play that. At the French Open it wouldn’t happen.

Pat Cash believes the decision to stage the exhibition match on the eve of the Australian Open defies belief and has hit out at organisers

‘They’ve bent over backwards to help Nick to get some matches and to do this, I don’t know.’

Cash’s comments come a day after Kyrgios fired back at former US tennis player Noah Rubin, who questioned the wisdom of scheduling an exhibition match just days before the start of the Australian Open. 

‘To be fair it will bring more crowd then any of your matches,’ the Aussie replied on Twitter. 

The exhibition will be Kyrgios’ first match since he picked up an ankle injury while playing in Dubai last month, which subsequently ruled him out of the inaugural United Cup in controversial circumstances. 

Kyrgios turned the tables on his detractors who previously criticised his on-court behaviour

The Aussie firebrand shot back at former US player Noah Rubin who questioned the wisdom of an exhibition featuring Kyrgios and Djokovic just before the start of the Aussie Open

It will also coincide with the release of the first episode of Break Point – Netflix’s new 10-part documentary on tennis’ ‘Generation Next’ – which focuses on the Aussie star. 

In Episode One: The Maverick, the 27-year-old discusses his future in tennis and admits his life was ‘spiralling out of control’ at one point as he opens up on his mental health struggles. 

The Aussie firebrand reached his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in July, losing in four sets to Djokovic, and is considered one of the dark horses for the Australian Open.

But Cash warned Kyrgios’ chances of triumphing at Melbourne Park given injuries disrupted his preparation.

Kyrgios hasn’t played since suffering an ankle in injury in Dubai last month

Novak Djokovic suffered an injury scare on Wednesday night during a practice match

‘He’s going to struggle with limited preparation,’ he said. ‘We’re putting high expectations on him […] if he gets through to the second week it’d be a bloody good effort.’ 

Meanwhile, Djokovic’s hamstring injury scare continues to hover over his Australian Open tilt after the nine-time champion required treatment on his left leg throughout an exhibition practice match against Daniil Medvedev.

In Wednesday’s practice match with Medvedev at Rod Laver Arena, the first time Djokovic had played in front of the Melbourne public since last year’s deportation saga, the injury appeared to again rear its head.

The session was meant to be 75 minutes but Djokovic exited after Medvedev claimed the first set 6-4 in 36 minutes.

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