'I'm sorry': Nick Kyrgios' sad announcement ahead of return to tennis

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·Sports Reporter
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Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the Queen's Club Championship, citing a neck injury.
Nick Kyrgios' return to the tennis court has been further delayed by a persistent neck problem. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Nick Kyrgios' long-awaited return to the tennis court has been delayed by a troublesome neck issue, which has forced him to pull out of the upcoming Queen's Club Championship.

The Australian star has played in just two tournaments since February 2020, after missing the majority of last year's tournaments after remaining home during the global coronavirus pandemic.

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He played the 2021 Australian Open, his most recent tournament appearance, with his previously scheduled return also scuppered due to the neck complaint.

He wrote on Instagram: "My tennis family, I'm sorry my return has been pushed back as I am having some uncomfortable pain in my neck at the moment.

"I'm trying to get on top of it but as I can't serve 100 per cent I will only be returning when I feel I can make full impact on the tour. Will stay in touch."

Kyrgios' big focus will now be on recovering in time for Wimbledon, where he reached the quarter-finals in 2014.

He has been replaced in the Queen's draw by Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles and doubles titles the last time the event was held in 2019, teaming up with Andy Murray for an emotional success.

The 26-year-old's playing future has proven difficult to predict, with Kyrgios admitting openly earlier in the year that he had been questioning how much a priority tennis would be going forward.

''I can change like the wind. I'm not too sure, depending on what happens with COVID in Australia, you know, I'm assuming we will probably settle it pretty quickly. But I don't know how I'll have to quarantine in overseas in tournaments," Kyrgios said being knocked out of the Australian Open.

"For me personally, man, I'm used to playing in front of packed stadiums. I'm not gonna force myself around the world when the time is not right where I have to quarantine for a week and then play. I don't know, I'm not too sure what lies ahead."

Djokovic, Nadal to clash in seismic French Open semi-final

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has relived the drama that befell him at the Australian Open, successfully negotiating a pandemic-related match suspension before booking a date with Rafael Nadal in the French Open semi-finals.

With Djokovic leading two sets to one and 3-2 against Italian Matteo Berrettini, up to 5,000 fans were enraged to have to leave Roland Garros just before 11pm on Wednesday night as a city-wide curfew began in Paris.

There was a 20-minute delay as both players left the arena and officials eventually emptied Court Philippe Chatrier of disgruntled fans, some of whom were left jeering and shouting "Rip off!"

On resumption, Djokovic, who felt like he'd gone from a Davis Cup-like atmosphere to an empty arena against a ferocious hitter whose comeback had been fuelled by the crowd's noisy support, regrouped to win 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 and advance to his 40th grand slam semi.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are set to face off in the semi-finals of the French Open. Pictures: Getty Images
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are set to face off in the semi-finals of the French Open. Pictures: Getty Images

The bizarre occasion reminded the world No.1 of his third round win over Taylor Fritz at the Australian Open in February when the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne had to be vacated in the fourth set as Victoria went into lockdown.

Djokovic won that match too - before going on to take the title - and reckoned he was grateful for the similar break in Paris because he felt he needed "a bit of a reset".

After resuming, Djokovic took a heavy tumble when trying to retrieve a Berrettini forehand but was almost maniacally determined to win, letting out astonishing primal screams once he'd sealed victory on his third match point after almost three-and-a-half hours.

"The reaction was me liberating the tension that was building up the whole match," Djokovic said.

It had been a day when both the world No.1 and Nadal had showcased vulnerability as well as their greatness.

The Spaniard - astonishingly - actually lost a set at Roland Garros while Djokovic blew the chance of a straight-sets win.

Yet by the time the red dust had settled, the two experienced masters had produced enough glorious brush strokes to set up their 58th meeting.

"It's not like any other match," Djokovic said of a showdown with Nadal.

"Just vibes are different walking on the court with him.

"That's why our rivalry has been historic for this sport.

"I'll probably pick Rafa as the biggest rival I've ever had in my career."

With AAP

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