Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios has labelled the Novak Djokovic saga an "absolute s***show" as the world No. 1 awaits his second court battle on Sunday morning in a bid to compete at the Australian Open.
It comes on a day where other players have continued to hit out at the Djokovic situation, but Kyrgios has again come out to bat for the Serbian star.
Kyrgios is currently quarantining after he withdrew from the Sydney Tennis Classic but has been able to train as he isolates at Matt Reid's house in Dural.
The 26-year-old said he was feeling pretty good but admitted it was like he'd been "smoking eight packs a day".
But speaking on his No Boundaries podcast with fellow players Alex Babanine and James Frawley, Kyrgios said he felt that the Australian "had already been tarnished" by the Novak saga.
"It's just a s***show," he said. "I'm waking up and it's just reading the media and there's something new every day. I feel like we're just trying to fight things that aren't right, it's not about the vaccination any more, it's just about him not being here on the right visa or his visa being cancelled.
"I feel like if it's not that, it's something else. I just think it's crazy. I feel so sorry for him. Preparing for an Australian Open or grand slam is enough for someone and the pressures that he has are so unique, he's going for 21 slams, being Novak Djokovic preparing is already enough, and I feel with dealing with the media, already having a court case, winning that, and now being detained again from that, still trying to practice, still trying to prepare and now his visa's cancelled.
"It's an absolute s***show. How we deal with this stuff is just embarrassing."
Kyrgios went on, hitting back at Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's cancellation of Djokovic's visa.
"The Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic," Mr Hawke wrote in a statement.
Court documents on Saturday revealed that the reason for the cancellation was due to the possibility Djokovic could "foster anti-vaccination sentiment leading to other unvaccinated persons refusing to become vaccinated, other unvaccinated persons being reinforced in their existing view not to become vaccinated, and/or a reduction in the uptake of booster vaccines," Mr Hawke wrote.
But Kyrgios wasn't buying it.
"We're treating him like he's a weapon of mass destruction at the moment," he said. "Literally he is here to play tennis.
"The mistreating of the people of Melbourne over the past two years has been atrocious, and I understand the anger towards him being unvaccinated and the medical exemption, I understand that. Now I feel like the people, no matter what Novak does, they're just going to say 'get him out of our country'.
"He's not doing anything to anyone, he just wants to come here and play the Australian Open and I think it's very important for him to be here and play the Australian Open for the people. We want sport.
"Sport brings people together through times of struggle, like what we're all going through. We're all looking forward to the Melbourne Cup, having that back, the Australian Open, having that back, and sport brings people together.
"The media has borderline ruined the Australian Open, divided everyone and it's not what sport's supposed to do."
Kyrgios also pointed to the 50 per cent capacity after Covid numbers have skyrocketed in Victoria, and the likes of Roger Federer and potentially Djokovic are not going to play at the tournament.
He added that "if the people of Melbourne didn't get f***ed over with everything in these rules, I don't think this would be such a big issue."
Ultimately, Kyrgios said he wants Djokovic to win the event.
After a week of questions to every other player about Djokovic, Kyrgios said it "p***es me off" as the likes of Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas have appeared to have be critical of the world No. 1.
Earlier in the week, Tsitsipas said Djokovic made vaccinated players "look like fools", despite having been vaccine hesitant himself. He reportedly ultimately got the Johnson & Johnson one dose vaccine.
"We're treating him like Novak Djokovic, not like a human being," he said. "Imagine how he's feeling, he probably just wants a bit of support from other players. Bro, he's getting it from me, like what the f***?"
Kyrgios revealed that Djokovic had reached out to him over Instagram to thank him for his stance last week, when he called for him to be treated like a human.
The Aussie added he was inundated with "hate messages" as he came out in defence of Djokovic last week, added he had to watch a funeral from Malaysia over Zoom.
He said the situation left a sore taste in his mouth.
"I feel a bit embarrassed," he said. "It's s***. You can't feel proud to be Australian during this time. Surely not, you're just not. I'm not."
'Tennis keeps going': Players tire of Djoker questions
Kyrgios wasn't the only player to speak out about Djokovic's situation but after a week, it was clear they were tired of the questions.
Nadal stands to benefit if Djokovic is kicked out with both players striving to become the first to win an unprecedented 21 Grand Slams.
While he stressed that he respected the Serb as a person and player, Nadal made it clear no one was bigger than the sport.
"I tell you one thing, it's very clear that Novak Djokovic is one of the best players of the history, without a doubt. But there is no one player in history that's more important than an event, no?" he said.
"The players stay and then go, and other players are coming. No one, even Roger (Federer), Novak, myself, Bjorn Borg who was amazing at his times, tennis keep going.
"The Australian Open is much more important than any player. If he's playing finally, okay. If he's not playing, Australian Open will be great Australian Open with or without him."
Nadal added that the saga had gone "too far" and he was "a little bit tired of the situation because I just believe that it's important to talk about our sport, about tennis".
Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka said she didn't know the Serbian well, but was sad that he might now be remembered more for his anti-vaccination stance than his exploits on the court.
"I think it's an unfortunate situation. He's such a great player and it's kind of sad that some people might remember (him) in this way," she said.
World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas criticised the 20-time Grand Slam winner earlier this week, saying he was "playing by his own rules".
But he was reluctant to get involved again on Saturday.
"I'm here to talk about tennis, not Novak Djokovic," the 23-year-old said. "I won't lie. It has been pretty much on every news outlet the last couple of weeks. It has received a lot of attention. A lot of people are obviously talking about it.
"That's why I'm here to talk about tennis. Not enough tennis has been talked about in the last couple of weeks, which is a shame."
But Djokovic did win cautious support from world number three Alexander Zverev, who suggested Djokovic was being made an example of.
"I think Novak is a very big name, a global superstar. I think that he is someone that maybe people think they can make a big deal out of it just because it's Novak," he said.
"I don't know enough of the situation, but I do think if it would not be Novak Djokovic, world number one, with 20 Grand Slams, all that, then it would not be as big of a drama. That I do believe."
But Australia's main men's hope Alex de Minaur was fed up, saying it was detracting from the tournament and other players.
"First of all, this whole situation has taken a lot of spotlight away from us competitors. We're here to play the Australian Open.
"It feels like it's taking away from us competitors who just want to start."
Pressed on whether Djokovic had been the author of his own demise, he replied: "Look, Australians have gone through a lot. There's no secret about that. They've had it very tough.
"They've done a lot of work to protect themselves and their borders. When you're coming in, as well as every other tennis player, if you wanted to come into the country, you had to be double-vaccinated."
Former world number one Andy Murray, who will play at the Open, said he hoped Djokovic's status would be cleared up, but he added: "I'm not going to sit here and start kicking Novak while he's down."