When Novak Djokovic was deported and missed the Australian Open last year, Aussie Alex de Minaur laughed – and the Serbian superstar clearly hasn’t forgotten.
After wiping the floor with the home crowd favourite in a brutal 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 demolition to advance to the quarter finals, Djokovic took a series of spicy swipes at de Minaur, declaring they ‘don’t have any relationship’.
The 35-year-old, who is vying for an incredible tenth Australian Open title, brushed off concerns of an ongoing leg injury to advance to a quarter-final match-up with Andrey Rublev.
But foremost in his thoughts after his demolition job was making sure de Minaur knew exactly where he stood.
Novak Djokovic gave rival Alex de Minaur a brutal takedown in his post-match press conference, proving their is no love lost betweent he pair
‘I don’t have any relationship with him,’ Djokovic told reporters.
‘I respect him as a rival, a colleague, as I respect everyone. I have no problem contacting him, congratulating him, etc.
‘But I don’t have any other relationship. I don’t have any communication with him. He showed in 2022 what he thinks about me,’ the superstar Serb said.
Last year de Minaur was one of the most vocal players in world tennis addressing Djokovic’s anti-vaccination sentiments, and the deportation circus to clouded the tournament.
A dejected Alex de Minaur leaves Rod Laver Arena on Monday after being demolished by Djokovic in brutal fashion
‘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,’ he said.
‘When you’re coming in, as well as every other tennis player, if you wanted to come to the country, you had to be double vaccinated. It was up to him, his choices, his judgment. Here we are.’
When word came in that Djokovic had failed in his attempt to overturn the Australian government’s decision, and was in fact being deported, de Minaur was in a press conference with fellow Aussie Jason Kubler.
He laughed when he heard the news.
De Minaur had criticised Djokovic for taking attention away from the tournament, and the bitter feud has been re-ignited yet again.
After getting ‘murdered’ on the court, according to almost everyone on tennis Twitter – many of whom took great delight in seeing him thoroughly dismantled – a salty de Minaur then accused Djokovic of faking his hamstring injury.
Novak Djokovic was back to his steely-eyed best on Monday night, then reignited his bitter feud with de Minaur after the match
‘I think everyone’s kind of seeing what’s been happening over the couple of weeks,’ he said at his post-match press conference, referring to the leg injury that has seen Djokovic require numerous medical time-outs in the tournament.
‘It’s the only thing everyone’s been talking about. Either I’m not a good enough tennis player to expose (the injury), or it looked good to me.
‘I just think … it’s very interesting. That’s all I’m going to say,’ said de Minaur.
It’s safe to say it didn’t go down well with Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic showed no signs of the leg injury that he struggled with earlier in the tournament when he accounted for de Minaur in straight sets
Alex de Minaur holds his head in his hands after being comprehensively beaten by Djokovic on Monday night
‘I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,’ he said in his native language to Serbian media.
‘Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting … I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
‘I have got the MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago and now. Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on the social media, depends on how I feel. Maybe I will do I it, maybe I won’t.
‘I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation.
‘But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that,’ Djokovic bit back.
It was a point not lost on many fans.
One called de Minaur’s loss ‘karma’, while another wrote Djokovic ‘got the last laugh’ with the victory.
The 21-time grand slam champion previously revealed he feared he wouldn’t be able to compete in the tournament at all thanks to the hamstring injury.
He’s since looked hobbled at times, and required a number of time-outs in previous matches, but was back to his ruthless best on Monday night in the straight-sets demolition job on the Aussie.
When asked by tennis legend turned commentator Jim Courier why he beat de Minaur so convincing, Djokovic was absolutely brutal in response.
‘Because I wanted to.’
When asked on-court by Jim Courier why he demolished Alex de Minaur so comprehensively, Novak Djokovic (pictured) said it was ‘because he wanted to’
Djokovic then thanked God for looking after him and helping the injury begin to right itself.
‘Tonight it wasn’t obvious I was dealing with an injury. I mean …I didn’t feel anything today,’ he said.
‘Today was great. I thank my medical team, my physio. Thank God anybody that really helped me.’
World no. 9 Taylor Fritz weighed in on the saga, slamming those – without mentioned de Minaur specifically – who have cast doubt on whether Djokovic is injured.
Taylor Fritz took aim at critics who are skeptical of Djokovic’s leg injury, saying almost all players on tour were dealing with various ailments
‘My opinion that probably nobody cares about … 80 per cent of players are always dealing w something (severity levels differ) but everyone is honesty always a little banged up,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘The media is only ever focusing on the top guys so there issues get more attention.
‘Also some players are more vocal talking about injuries then others. I don’t think people fake injuries, I do think sometimes players stretch the severity of the injury because it depressurizes them and helps them play better (which honestly is fine, do whatever works).
‘I don’t think it’s done in a bad sportsmanship kind of way, and before people get defensive, I’m not talking about anyone in particular this is just what I see as a player, sometimes there r serious injuries, sometimes there over exaggerated ones from people 1-500.
‘I’m not taking shots at any players so please don’t get defensive,’ Fritz wrote.
What is clear is, injured or not, it’s going to take one hell of a performance to deny Djokovic his 11th Australian Open title.
He’ll take on Rublev on Wednesday – his 13th time reaching the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.