Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the US Open in a huge blow to the New York grand slam.
The Australian tennis superstar said he had no problem with the USTA proceeding with their plans to hold the tournament in September but cited health and safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic as he joined world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in opting out of the Flushing Meadows major.
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"I will not be playing this year at the US Open. It hurts me at my core not to be out there competing in one of the sport's greatest arenas, Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Kyrgios said in a video posted by Uninterrupted.
“But I'm sitting out for the people, for my Aussies, for the hundreds and thousands of Americans that have lost their lives, for all of you. It's my decision.”
I will not be playing this year at the US Open.
It hurts me at my core…But I’m sitting out for the people, for my Aussies, for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives, for all of you. #SincerelyYours, @NickKyrgios pic.twitter.com/7EecHNU82l
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) August 1, 2020
While Kyrgios was mindful that the decision to compete rested with each player, and praised those who had been following the rules, the 25-year-old maintained his strong criticism of ‘money-grabbing’ rivals who were pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.
“You have to be acting 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 about other for once - that’s what this virus is about.
“It doesn’t care about your world ranking, or how much money you have. Act responsibly.”
Nick Kyrgios maintains attack on ‘selfish’ rivals
While Kyrgios hasn’t been shy to hurl insults at his rivals on Twitter, he was careful to make it clear that each player’s decision to play was theirs alone.
His statement came days after fellow Australian and women’s world No.1 Ash Barty also announced she would not be attending the US Open, again citing concerns over the coronavirus.
“To those players that have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you,” Kyrgios said.
2020 - the year @NickKyrgios did a full face turn
Can’t help but respect how he’s handled this entire pandemic.
Been the outspoken advocate tennis needs when there’s so many idiots around pic.twitter.com/wPoTKtHyKW
— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) August 1, 2020
“Play at your own risk, and I have no problem with that.”
Kyrgios’ statement comes after British tennis legend Andy Murray predicted more big names would be reluctant to come to the United States.
Murray claims to have heard some of the top men's players will also pull out, even though his commitment to travel to the US remains firm.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic, who has already had coronavirus after hosting an exhibition event in Serbia and Croatia without following social distancing protocols, and defending champion Rafael Nadal have both previously expressed doubts about playing in the tournament.
But both are currently listed as being in the field for Western & Southern Open that precedes the US Open.
"The Ash Barty withdrawal, I think we will see it quite a bit," said former world No.1 Murray.
"I have heard some of the top male players aren't going to play. I would expect that would be the case. It's everyone's personal decision.”