Nick Kyrgios twist emerges after shock Novak Djokovic announcement

Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic, pictured here on the tennis court.
Nick Kyrgios has been added to the Canadian Open draw after Novak Djokovic withdrew. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic has officially withdrawn from the Canadian Open due to his vaccination status, but Nick Kyrgios has been announced as a surprise entrant.

Djokovic has refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19 but was still included on the entry list for the ATP 1000 hard-court event in Montreal when it was released in mid-July.

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But to qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller to Canada, all individuals must have received their second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering the country.

A similar situation applies in the United States, with Djokovic still on the entry list for the US Open despite there being little chance he can enter the country.

Tennis Canada announced on Thursday that Djokovic had pulled out of the Canadian Open, as has Germany's Oscar Otte.

Montreal Masters tournament director Eugene Lepierre had said earlier this month that he did not expect Djokovic to play.

"Either the Canadian government is going to change the rules regarding vaccination or he is going to roll up his sleeves and get the vaccine. But I don't think any of those scenarios are realistic," Lepierre said.

But in a surprise twist, Kyrgios was announced in the draw despite not originally planning to play in Canada.

The Wimbledon runner-up and Benjamin Bonzi of France moved into the main draw as a result of Djokovic and Otte withdrawing.

In addition, three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray was handed a wild card, along with Belgian David Goffin and Canadians Vasek Pospisil and Alexis Galarneau.

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios, pictured here in the Wimbledon final.
Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios played each other in the Wimbledon final. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images) (Simon M Bruty via Getty Images)

Murray, a former World No.1 who won the Canadian title in 2009, 2010 and 2015, has been rising in the rankings this season from 134th to 50th.

He reached finals in Sydney in January and Stuttgart in June, but fell in the first round in Washington earlier this week to Sweden's Mikael Ymer.

Despite that disappointment, Murray said on Monday that he believes he can get his ranking high enough to earn a seeding at the US Open, which he won a decade ago.

"It's still possible," Murray said. "I would just need to have a good run in Canada or Cincinnati really.

"It's pretty straightforward if I was to make a quarter-final or a semi-final, which right now - after a loss like that - doesn't seem realistic.

"I do feel like if I play very well that I could do that. But I'll need to certainly play better than I did today."

John Millman's defence of Novak Djokovic sparks storm

On Wednesday, Aussie veteran John Millman sparked a storm when he said he couldn't see why Djokovic wasn't allowed to enter the US.

After revealing he has contracted Covid-19, Millman said he can't work out why unvaccinated travellers can't enter the country given what he's seen there.

"I’m out with covid. I was just in the states and it didn’t really feel like too many were following any recommendations or guidelines there," he wrote on Twitter.

"Which is fine, but therefore I can’t see then why Novak Djokovic can’t come and compete."

He later clarified his comments after being bombarded with replies.

"Let me be clear. If everyone in the country was following guidelines then I’m all for them enforcing a vax entry policy," he said.

"But from what I saw pretty much no one was, the tournament allows non vax citizens to play and only 30% have had a booster."

Djokovic said last week: "I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US. Fingers crossed!"

with agencies

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