Kyrgios: ‘Slim to none’ chance that he will play the French Open

Nick Kyrgios told Australian media that the chances of him playing in Europe in 2020 were ‘very slim’.

Speaking to Channel 9’s Today Show in his native Australia, Kyrgios reiterated his prioritisation of health and safety as well as his criticisms of other players.

The world no. 40 announced on Instagram at the start of this week that he would not be competing at the US Open, which will be played behind closed doors in New York from 31 August-11 September, saying he was ‘sitting out for my people’.

On Friday, Kyrgios said he’s also unlikely to compete at the French Open, which is scheduled to be played in Paris from 27 September-11 October.

Kyrgios said:

‘It is a very slim chance I’ll play in Europe. Almost slim to none to be honest.

‘I think I’m going to use this time to stay home. I’m going to respect everyone that’s really tried to do no wrong during this time, tried to isolate themselves, trying to make sure no one else gets sick during this time.

‘So I’m going to use this to say home, train, be with my family, be with my friends and I’m going to act responsibly and wait until I think there’s better circumstances to play.’

World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Kyrgios’s compatriot, was the first high-profile player to pull out of the US Open, although she has not yet announced a decision on whether or not she will be playing the French Open where she is the defending champion. Rafael Nadal, the defending champion at both the US and French Opens, pulled out of the former this week too. World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is expected to announce a decision in the coming days.

Kyrgios described himself as the ‘first hurdle’ in terms of big-name players withdrawing from the US Open, saying:

‘I knew a lot of players were going to [withdraw] – I don’t think the US Open will be happy seeing some of the biggest names in sport not put their health at risk and go there and play.

‘I wasn’t surprised by Rafa’s decision; I think he’s more eyeing the French Open.’

The Aussie also cast doubt on the prospect of the 2021 Australian Open, which organizers have insisted will be held in Melbourne in January despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city which have led to extreme lockdown rules being imposed in the state of Victoria.

Kyrgios, who is based in Canberra, said:

‘I’m not too sure the Australian Open will be going ahead as it did at the start of the year with the pandemic in Melbourne. It’s sad times in Melbourne so I’m not too sure if the Australian Open will go on.’

This week saw another blow to what remains of the 2020 tennis calendar when the Mutua Madrid Open, which was scheduled to begin on the day of the US Open men’s final, was cancelled after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Madrid.

On the other hand, the Palermo Ladies Open, the first WTA tournament since early March, is currently going on in Sicily, Italy and seems to have been a success with just one positive COVID-19 test reported among the players and support staff.

In addition to training and spending time with his family, Kyrgios has also kept busy on social media during the shutdown. His criticism of the players involved in Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour exhibition series, many of whom (including Djokovic himself) tested positive for COVID-19, has been scathing and Kyrgios has brushed off any pushback on the basis of his own on-court behaviour:

‘Some of the players, their behaviour throughout this time I don’t think has been great at all, especially coming from some of our leaders of the sport who are supposed to be setting an example.

‘Them coming back at me with behaviour that I’ve done on court just shows their intellectual level. They’re putting lives at risk – it’s not really comparable.’

Polarised pandemic approaches: Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the US Open because of health concerns but Andy Murray is determined to play if possible.

In an instance of contrasting views which mirrors the divided state of the sport, this weekend saw one high-profile player announce that he could not reconcile it with his conscience to play the US Open, while another redoubles his commitment to doing just that.

Former world no. 1 Murray had admitted to previous scepticism about whether or not the US Open would even be played, but said on Sunday that he was determined to compete in it if possible:

‘I love playing the biggest events, even though this will be different, with no fans. But that is something I care about and I’m willing to take a risk to go and play.’

The 2020 US Open is scheduled to be played behind closed doors in New York from 31 August-13 September, and will be immediately preceded by the Western & Southern Open from 22-28 August, which has been relocated from Cincinnati to form a two-tournament ‘bubble’ with the Grand Slam.

Currently ranked world no. 129, Murray has not played an official match since the Davis Cup Finals last November, although he has competed in both of the Battle of the Brits exhibition tournaments organised by his brother Jamie. Murray came close to retirement in January 2019, but is attempting to rekindle his career after a hip resurfacing operation, although that is proving to be a difficult journey. He has not played at a Grand Slam since the Australian Open a year and a half ago, and admitted himself that his own uncertainties about how many opportunities he will have to do so have fed into his decision to play a US Open which – with no fans and many top players not entering – might bear little resemblance to previous editions:

‘I’ve missed it, missed it a lot. The situation I’ve been in the last few years, I’ve not had opportunity to play in many slams. I don’t know how many I’ll have left.

‘So, while I’m feeling relatively decent … obviously there is a risk there, but I want to try and play in them [Cincinnati and the US Open] and enjoy the biggest events again.’

Murray had previously speculated about entering qualifying for the Western & Southern Open in a bid to try to get more matches, but confirmed that he will enter the main draw instead.

Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios became the latest high-profile player to pull out of the US Open.

Kyrgios’s withdrawal follows the example set by WTA world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty last week, but while his compatriot released a brief statement saying that she didn’t feel comfortable exposing herself and her team to the ‘significant risks’ inherent in travelling to the USA at this point, Kyrgios framed his decision as a moral stance.

Speaking on Instagram via ‘athlete empowerment platform’ Uninterrupted, Kyrgios said:

‘I’ve got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open, and if players want to go, that’s up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely. …

‘I will not be playing this year at the US Open. It hurts me to my core not to be out there competing in one of the sport’s greatest arenas, Arthur Ashe Stadium. But I’m sitting out for the people, for my Aussies, for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives.’

Kyrgios has been tireless and vehement on social media in criticising the behaviour of other ATP Tour players he deems to have acted irresponsibly, singling out the players who participated in Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour and Alexander Zverev, who was filmed in a crowded bar after promising to self-isolate, in particular. And his US Open announcement included a rebuke to them in no uncertain terms:

‘But tennis players, you have to act in the interests of each other and work together. You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck hosting an exhibition. That’s just so selfish.

‘Think of the other people for once. That’s what this virus is about. It doesn’t care about your world ranking, or how much money you have.’

Nick Kyrgios embroiled in acrimonious exchanges with ‘boring ass’ Borna Coric over pandemic safety.

The war of words between Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric continues to escalate on Twitter, with Coric accusing Kyrgios of ‘preaching about behaviour’ while Kyrgios responded that Coric’s tennis and personality are ‘boring ass’ and bring ‘absolutely zero to the sport’.

The 25-year-old Australian has been forthright on social media about his unfavourable view of the players who participated in Novak Djokovic’s ill-fated Adria Tour, which was cancelled after several players tested positive for COVID-19.

Kyrgios was also scathing about the behaviour of Alexander Zverev, who did not test positive but was filmed partying in a crowded bar a few days after he had promised to self-isolate.

Borna Coric, one of those players who tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in the Adria Tour, drew Kyrgios’s ire after he suggested that the Australian ‘likes being a general after the battle’.

‘Zverev behaved badly, but I don’t understand the need to criticise a colleague like that,’ Coric said.

Kyrgios shot back with some unflattering remarks about Coric’s intelligence (‘intellectual level = 0’) and asking ‘Do you have rocks in your head?’

Coric did not take kindly to Kyrgios’s inferences, enquiring sarcastically whether Kyrgios – who has had a string of run-ins with authority, most recently being given a suspended ban of 16 weeks and a fine of $113,000 after an ATP investigation found a pattern of verbal abuse of officials and spectators – was really in a position to lecture others.

 

Kyrgios derided Coric for making light of the global health crisis, but rather undercut his attempt to take the moral high ground by claiming that he was ‘a tad bored watching your boring ass tennis and personality bringing absolutely zero to the game’.

 

When journalist Ben Rothenberg, with whom Kyrgios has also had run-ins in the past, drew attention to the tweets, Kyrgios underlined his point, claiming it was ‘embarrassing’ to compare his antics on the court, such as swearing at officials, to engaging in risky behaviours during a global pandemic.

Kyrgios has previously criticised the USTA’s attempts to go ahead with the US Open, currently scheduled to be played behind closed doors in New York as part of a two-tournament bubble with the Wesetrn & Southern Open, calling them ‘selfish’. While Kyrgios’s name appeared on the player entry list for the Western & Southern Open, the Australian was quick to confirm that he won’t be participating, following in the footsteps of compatriot Ashleigh Barty; the world no. 1 released a statement on Thursday that she won’t be travelling to the USA for the Western & Southern Open and US Open, citing ‘significant risks involved’.

Nick Kyrgios escalates war of words with Borna Coric and claims he’s trying to hold fellow players ‘accountable’ for poor COVID-19 decisions.

There may have been some British beef at the Battle of the Brits this week, but Australia’s Kyrgios has upped the ante once more with some spuds and a doughnut for dessert as the fallout from Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour continues to rumble on.

Kyrgios was one of the most vociferous critics of the exhibition series, which was cancelled after a slew of players including Grigor Dimitrov, Djokovic himself and Croatia’s Borna Coric tested positive for COVID-19. Social distancing measures were not observed, to say the least, during the tour, which aimed to raise funds for relief projects in the Balkan region.

Among other things, Kyrgios called the tour ‘boneheaded’. He was also vocal in his disapproval when Alexander Zverev, who had participated in the Adria Tour and publicly declared that he was self-isolating, was filmed partying at an extremely crowded bar – behaviour Kyrgios described as ‘idiotic’.

Kyrgios’s comments were not well received by Boris Becker, who said he didn’t like ‘rats’, or by world no. 3 Dominic Thiem, who said that Kyrgios should ‘come clean instead of criticising others’. ‘This just shows what a joke [Thiem, Zverev and Djokovic] think this is, 2 of them partying like potato’s during a global pandemic,’ Kyrgios shot back.

Now world no. 33 Borna Coric has got involved, telling Croatian newspaper Jutarjni that Kyrgios ‘enjoys being a general after battle’.

Coric said:

‘I read what he wrote, but I don’t care. He enjoys being a general after battle. Coming from someone else, I might have understood, but Kyrgios … It’s not really realistic.

‘It’s his style, he works like that, there is no problem. Zverev behaved badly, but I don’t understand the need to criticize a colleague like that. I wouldn’t have. But, again, it’s Kyrgios.’

Predictably, Kyrgios picked up on the comments via social media and defended himself, riposting: ‘You should care. Do you have rocks in your head?’

 

Kyrgios also exhorted Coric to read recent comments about the condition Dimitrov found himself in after his bout of COVID-19. The world no. 19, the first player to test positive on the Adria Tour who then found himself blamed by the Djokovic family, admitted this weekend that he is very doubtful to play the US Open after losing 3kgs in weight, being kept off court entirely for a month and still struggling with his energy level amidst bouts of fatigue.

 

The Australian continued to showcase his creativity in exchanges with Djokovic fans, calling the same person a ‘quail’, a ‘pelican’ and an ‘albatross’.

Kyrgios has also been extremely sceptical about the prospect of the US Open taking place, as it is scheduled to do, from 31 August-13 September behind closed doors in New York.

Alexander Zverev was to be the headliner at the Bett1 Aces tournament in Berlin from 13-15 July but has pulled out without explanation.

Nick Kyrgios has also withdrawn from the tournament, as has France’s Caroline Garcia.

The Bett1 Aces tournament will be played at the Steffi Graf Stadium and at the Airport Templehof from 13-19 July. Other players currently listed on the website include retired Tommy Haas, Julia Goerges and Jannik Sinner.

Zverev has come under fire recently for breaching self-isolation guidelines. The 23-year-old was part of the Adria Tour, the exhibition series organised by Novak Djokovic which was cancelled after a slew of positive tests among players and support staff, and issued a statement on Instagram apologising ‘deeply’ to ‘anyone I have potentially put at risk’ and promising to isolate himself – only for footage of him partying in a very crowded club to emerge six days later.

The German player has yet to address that footage or issue another apology, but wrote on Instagram today that he would not be playing the Bett1 Aces event, writing:

‘I have made the decision to stay put and train with my team and not play any organised events at the moment. It’s never nice to miss the chance to play at home, but I will be back soon.’

The announcement followed comments by the tournament director Edwin Weindorfer that he might rescind Zverev’s invitation to participate in the Bett1 Aces, or require him to follow a strict code of conduct while playing in Berlin.

Zverev also confirmed that he has taken a third test for COVID-19 which returned a negative result, and confirmed the news that he was undergoing a trial period working with David Ferrer.

It was reported on Monday that Ferrer, the former world no. 2 and French Open finalist who retired in May 2019, had travelled to Monte Carlo for a two-week trial with Zverev, whose former coaches include Grand Slam champions Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl.

Zverev confirmed that he and Ferrer are undergoing a ‘trial period’, writing:

‘Could not be more excited to get to work. Can’t wait for the tour to be back.’

Kyrgios’s withdrawal from the Bett1 Aces event, meanwhile, was attributed to Australian travel restrictions. The Australian has certainly been vocal in his criticisms of other players who have travelled and participated in exhibitions and specifically called Zverev’s behaviour ‘idiotic’.

Caroline Garcia has pulled out of the tournament due to a foot injury.