Kyrgios slams ATP Tour's stance on US Open

Combative player Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open in January. He is adamant that tennis in the US should not restart until the country resolves its coronavirus and social unrest issues.
Combative player Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open in January. He is adamant that tennis in the US should not restart until the country resolves its coronavirus and social unrest issues.PHOTO: REUTERS

It's 'selfish' to push ahead in wake of virus fallout and anti-racism protests, says Aussie

SYDNEY • Nick Kyrgios yesterday hit out at the ATP Tour, calling it "selfish" for pressing ahead with the US Open despite the host country's struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing anti-racism protests.

The outspoken Australian suggested that it was too early for the Grand Slam - currently set for Aug 31 - to be held at Flushing Meadows, joining other players in expressing their reservations, including world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

"The ATP is trying to make the US Open go ahead. Selfish with everything going on at the moment," world No. 40 Kyrgios tweeted. "Obviously Covid-19, but also with the riots. Together, we need to overcome these challenges before tennis returns in my opinion."

The tennis season has been on hold since March due to the pandemic, with the French Open postponed until September and Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II.

New York is the epicentre of the outbreak in the country and US Open organisers have said they will make a decision on whether the hard-court Grand Slam can go ahead by this month.

The authorities and organisers have drawn up a list of health and safety rules, including a 14-day quarantine period for players arriving in the US while restricting their entourage to just one person.

Djokovic suggested on Wednesday he may skip the North American hard-court swing and restart his season on clay in Europe in early September, complaining about the "very severe" measures being put in place at the US Open.

"Most of the players I've talked to so far have a rather negative view of the possibility of going," said the Serb.

World No. 2 and reigning US Open champion Rafael Nadal holds similar sentiments, while women's world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has also voiced caution about resuming tennis too soon.

However, American Danielle Collins yesterday slammed Djokovic for his opposition to the Covid-19 protocols proposed by the US Open organisers, saying players need to start earning a living again.

THIS DOESN'T ADD UP

It's easy when someone's made US$150 million (S$208 million) throughout their career to try and tell people what to do with their money, and then turn down playing in the US Open.

'' DANIELLE COLLINS, who has career earnings of US$2.57 million, criticising men's No. 1 Novak Djokovic for seeking support for a fund for lower-ranked players but yet opposing the US Open's "very severe" health and safety rules.

Referencing his heartfelt appeal in April for players to contribute to a fund to help lower-ranked professionals affected by the shutdown, the world No. 51, who reached the semi-finals of last year's Australian Open, said on her Instagram page: "This is a serious contradiction.

"No one has been able to play sanctioned events or make money since February.

"This is a massive opportunity for players to start making money again, and here, we have the top player in the world saying only being able to bring one person with (him) will be too difficult."

Calling on Djokovic, who heads the ATP Tour players' council, to think about the bigger picture instead, she added: "It's easy when someone's made US$150 million (S$208 million) throughout their career to try and tell people what to do with their money, and then turn down playing in the US Open."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2020, with the headline 'Kyrgios slams tour's stance on US Open'. Print Edition | Subscribe