An emotional Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the US Open yesterday, for "the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives", while pleading with players who attend to not be selfish and act responsibly.
His decision follows fellow Australian and world number one Ashleigh Barty last week withdrawing from the Grand Slam in New York, citing "significant risks" from the coronavirus pandemic.
"Dear Tennis, I will not be playing this year at the US Open. It hurts me at my core," Kyrgios, who has consistently called out fellow competitors for not taking the virus seriously enough, said in a video posted on Twitter.
"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."
More than 150,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, with over 4.5 million infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
The opinionated Kyrgios, ranked just 40 but a major drawcard, last month blasted the ATP as "selfish" for pressing ahead with plans for the US Open, which is scheduled to start on August 31.
He tempered criticism of organizers in a passionate letter read during the video, saying he had "no problem" with it being held, citing the need to keep people such as restaurant workers, cleaners, and locker room attendants in work.
But Kyrgios had strong words for some of the top names in the game, in a veiled jab at those who took part in Novak Djokovic's recent ill-fated Adria Tour exhibition, where there was minimal social distancing and players went nightclubbing.
Djokovic, GrigorDimitrov, BornaCoric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive for COVID-19 after the Adria Tour and Kyrgios has since waged a running battle with some of those who played, including Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, blasting their "stupidity" and risky behaviour.
The US Tennis Association (USTA) on Friday said they were confident in their safety plans for the event, which will take place in a bubble quarantine setting without spectators.
The tennis season has been at a standstill since mid-March due to the virus outbreak worldwide, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II.
Calendars have been reshuffled with the WTA tour scheduled to restart on Monday in Palermo, Italy, although a player, who has not been officially identified, tested positive for coronavirus and pulled out.*AFP
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