Australian tennis ace Nick Kyrgios has cited concerns about the continued safety issues surrounding COVID-19 as he revealed that he is unlikely to play at the French Open this year.
Kyrgios announced his withdrawal from the U.S. Open on Sunday, and revealed to Australian TV station Channel Nine that he intends to wait until the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is safer and more stable before he commits to playing tournaments in Europe.
“It’s a very slim chance I’ll play in Europe. Almost slim to none, to be honest,” he admitted.
“I’m going to use this (time) to stay home, train, be with my family, be with my friends and I’m just going to act responsibly, and wait till I think there’s better circumstances to play.”
The French Open at Roland Garros was set to take place at its usual timeslot at the end of May and beginning of June, but the advent of the coronavirus meant the tournament was postponed to September.
But Kyrgios, who withdrew from the 2019 tournament due to sickness after claiming the tournament “sucks,” looks likely to be a notable absentee in 2020.
Before attention turns to Roland Garros, however, the U.S. Open will take place behind closed doors at Flushing Meadows between August 13 and September 13. Already confirmed as missing from the field are Kyrgios, plus world No. 2 Rafael Nadal and women’s world No. 1 Ash Barty.
Kyrgios said the decision to withdraw from the U.S. Open was a straightforward one.
“Even with the (Black Lives Matter) movement and the whole protests and that type of stuff going on over there, I just don’t think at the moment it’s the correct time to go ahead with sport, in my opinion,” he said.
There are also concerns over the status of next year’s Australian Open, with a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne placing the city into a second lockdown and raising an element of doubt over the running of the first Grand Slam of 2021.
Plans are in place for the tournament to go ahead, even if it means doing so behind closed doors, but Kyrgios admitted he’s unsure about the viability of the tournament in the current climate.
“With the pandemic in Melbourne, I heard on the radio today I think 700 new cases, we reached new heights in deaths,” he said.
“I’m not sure the Australian Open will go on.”