"Sitting out for the people", Kyrgios joins Barty in missing US Open

"Sitting out for the people", Kyrgios joins Barty in missing US Open

The Australian called on his peers to step up, stating, "Tennis players, you have to act in the interests of each other and work together... Think of the other people for once. That’s what this virus is about."

First, Ashleigh Barty opted out of the US Open for health and safety concerns earlier this week. Now, countryman Nick Kyrgios is joining the WTA's top-ranked player in taking the same approach.

In an Instagram video uploaded by Uninterrupted, the 25-year-old disclosed he would not be making the trip for the hard-court major at Flushing Meadows.

“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,” said Kyrgios. “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.”

Kyrgios stated he takes no issue with USTA continuing down the path of staging the event, and shared compassion for those needing work, proclaiming, “no one wants people to keep their jobs more than me. I’m speaking for the guy who works at the restaurant, the cleaners, the locker room attendants.”

The heart of the Australian's message was directed at his peers. For the past couple months, Kyrgios has been an outspoken critic of players behaving irresponsibly during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Adria Tour had its falling out after several players, including Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric, tested positive for coronavirus, Kyrgios tweeted that it was a “boneheaded decision” to hold the exhibition. When Adria Tour participant Alexander Zverev was spotted in public after not self-isolating for 14 days, having previously released a statement that he would, a fired up Kyrgios asked in an Instagram Story, “how selfish can you be?”

On Thursday, Kyrgios and Coric exchanged heated words in a Twitter feud. The Canberra native's refusal to back down continued in Sunday's video, where he once again implored the tennis community to consider the bigger picture.

“Let's take a breath here and remember what's important, which is health and safety as a community. We can rebuild our sport and the economy, but we can never recover lives lost,” said Kyrgios.

“Tennis players, you have to act 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 the next exhibition. That’s just so selfish. Think of the other people 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.”

Kyrgios last appeared in Acapulco to defend his title in late February. He retired after dropping the first set in his opener to Ugo Humbert due to a left wrist injury. While he won't be starting back up in New York, Kyrgios sent words of encouragement to the competitors who've held themselves accountable while the tours have been on hiatus.

“To those players that have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you. Play at your own risk—and I have no problem with that.”


Who will remain in this year's 21 & Under Club, and which new players will join them?

Find out all week on TENNIS.com and Baseline.

Monday, July 27: Sofia Kenin | Monday, July 27: Elena Rybakina | Monday, July 27: Alex de Minaur, Dayana Yastremska, Casper Ruud | Tuesday, July 28: Stefanos Tsitsipas | Tuesday, July 28: Thiago Seyboth Wild | Wednesday, July 29: Amanda Anisimova | Wednesday, July 29: Brandon Nakashima | Thursday, July 30: Coco Gauff | Thursday, July 30: Caty McNally | Thursday, July 30: Jannik Sinner, Iga Swiatek | Friday, July 31: Felix Auger-Aliassime | Friday, July 31: Carlos Alcaraz | Saturday, August 1: Denis Shapovalov | Saturday, August 1: J.J. Wolf