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

hannahwilks in French Open 06 Aug 2020
Nick Kyrgios: ‘Very slim’ chances that he’ll compete at the French Open in 2020 (Credit Image: © Pascal Muller/EQ Images via ZUMA Press)

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.’