SYDNEY/WASHINGTON, January 10, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)
As the Sydney Tennis Classic got under way Monday, one of the ATP 250 tournament’s star attractions, Nick Kyrgios, withdrew after revealing he has COVID-19.
The 114th-ranked Kyrgios was scheduled to play Monday evening’s featured match on Ken Rosewall Arena against No. 7 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy. Instead, his place in the 28-player draw was filled by 84th-ranked lucky loser Daniel Altmaier of Germany, who lost to Fognini 6-3, 7-5, in 85 minutes.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) January 10, 2022
In a social media post Monday, Kyrgios said he’s asymptomatic and still hopes to play in the Australian Open, which begins next Monday in Melbourne.
“Hey Everyone, I just want to be open and transparent with everyone, the reason I have had to pull out of Sydney is because I tested positive for Covid. I am feeling healthy at the moment with no symptoms. I wish everyone all the best and to stay safe where you can. If all goes well I will see you at The Australian Open.”
Nick Kyrgios says the reason he withdrew from Sydney is because he has Covid-19. Says he is asymptomatic. Still plans (hopes?) to play the Australian Open pic.twitter.com/AMVfgryAc8
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) January 10, 2022
On the court, three seeded players – Fognini, No. 5 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and No. 8 David Goffin – advanced to the second round.
The 27th-ranked Sonego fired eight aces and needed three sets and two hours and 42 minutes to defeat No. 67 Hugo Gaston of France, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, in his first match of the season.
Meanwhile, No. 8 seed Goffin had an easier time with the 76th-ranked Facundo Bagnis of Argentina, winning 6-4, 6-4 in 90 minutes. It was the 31-year-old Goffin’s first victory of the new season and broke a seven-match losing streak. The five-time ATP Tour titlist’s last win came in Rome eight months ago. A knee problem curtailed Goffin’s season in September following a first-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the US Open.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 10, 2022
Also advancing was 75th-ranked wild card Jordan Thompson of Australia, who defeated No. 66 Marcos Giron of the United States 6-4, 6-2.
Kyrgios played a lot of basketball during off-season
On Saturday, Nick Kyrgios sat down with international media at Sydney, two days before he disclosed he had tested positive for COVID-19. Even then, the 26-year-old Aussie had not been feeling ideal. He had already pulled out of the Melbourne Summer Set due to asthma, which took place last week at Melbourne Park.
“Yeah, obviously last week, you know, with everything floating around these days, obviously I thought it was COVID. You know, I was feeling pretty average. Obviously, was pretty much in bed for three, four days sleeping a lot. Struggled to breathe and was testing like with these rapid tests and all this other stuff,” he said. “I was testing a lot, came back negative every single time.
“I just wanted to get over that. I still am feeling some effects, like my breathing is a little bit affected. I don’t feel 100 percent on court as yet, but I’m slowly getting better every day. I’m taking my time.”
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Kyrgios, whose 2021 season was limited to just 15 matches but remains one of the biggest draws on the ATP Tour, said he had “a pretty good” offseason. After playing in last year’s Australian Open, Kyrgios stayed in his home country after the tour moved abroad, both to nurse a knee injury and because of the obstacles of worldwide travel during the pandemic.
“I felt motivated I definitely put more emphasis on getting in the gym a bit more,” Kyrgios admitted. “I played a lot of basketball, to be honest, in my offseason. I didn’t really have an offseason to train for tennis. I just like being active. I think humans should be active.
“In general, I just enjoyed life, to be honest, in my offseason. I had a great time.”
When Kyrgios, a six-time titlist on the ATP Tour, was asked what he hoped to get out of the 2022 season, he said: “Well, I take it day by day. I’m definitely not someone now in my career at the moment that is setting ranking goals or setting tournament wins or wins in general. I just want to go out there and take it day by day, have fun, enjoy myself.
“I feel like life gets a bit hard for me on a day-to-day basis, like I try to just work through my problems and then, you know, if I do well on the tennis court that’s just a bonus.”
Kyrgios on Djokovic: ‘I’m feeling for him right now’
Finally, the subject of Novak Djokovic’s detainment by the Australian Border Force was brought up by a reporter during the press conference. Krygios didn’t shy away from speaking out on the issue, which has polarized the tennis world.
“If he’s allowed to play the Australian Open, I don’t want any bar of him. I reckon he’s going to be pissed off,” Kyrgios said. “He’s going to be very determined to play well, and stick it to everyone of what’s going on.
“I think he’ll have no problem preparing. I think this is just added fuel for him, in my opinion. Like he all know how good of a competitor he is. You don’t become a great champion like that without being able to overcome some adversity like this. I’m sure he’s overcome a lot more challenging times than, you know, spending a couple more extra days in hotel rooms.
I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened,I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen
I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans. 👇 pic.twitter.com/iJVbMfQ037
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 10, 2022
“All I’m saying is he’s going to be dangerous if he’s on court at the Australian Open, and I don’t want to play him right now, that’s for sure. Someone else can have that task. …
“Honestly, I hope it all gets sorted as soon as possible. For the sport we need him here, it’s that simple. He’s one of the most influential sports people probably of all time.
“I just want it to end, and I want like – I don’t know. I’m feeling for him now. Like it’s not really humane, is it, what’s going on?”
Vukic earns biggest win of his career at Adelaide International 2
Twenty-five-year-old Australian wild card Aleksandar Vukic garnered the biggest win of his career after eliminating sixth seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, 7-6 (5), 6-2, Monday in the first day of main draw play of the ATP 250 Adelaide International 2 at Memorial Drive.
The 156th-ranked Vukic, who split his time last season between playing on the ATP Tour and in Challengers and reached two Challenger finals, at Charlottesville, Va., and Champaign, Ill. at the end of the year, did not face any break points against Bublik during his 80-minute victory. It was his first win against a Top-50 opponent and it advanced him to play either Australian wild card Alex Bolt or American qualifier Steve Johnson in the second round.
First Top 50 win 👏🇦🇺
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) January 10, 2022
Elsewhere, in a battle of Americans, No. 43 Tommy Paul earned his third win of the year in four matches with his 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 7 seed Frances Tiafoe, ranked 38th. Paul won 24 of 29 first-serve points during the 69-minute first-round match.
— Adelaide International (@AdelaideTennis) January 10, 2022
Also, No. 58 Arthur Rinderknech of France fired 22 aces during his 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3 win over 55th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald of the United States, in two hours and 13 minutes, and No. 77 Jaume Munar of Spain beat No. 72 John Millman of Australia, 6-2, 6-2.
By the numbers
World No. 134 Andy Murray of Great Britain, who bowed in the first round of the Melbourne Summer Set to Facundo Bagnis last week, will play 345thqualifier Viktor Durasovic of Norway on Tuesday. Murray, who has reached five Australian Open finals and won two titles in Brisbane in 2012-13, reached two quarterfinals last season, in Metz and Sofia on the comeback trail from hip resurfacing surgery. If Murray beats Durasovic, he would face second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.
“Honestly, if I’m ranked 1000 or 10 in the world, I know what I’m capable of. Everyone knows what I’m capable of on our. I’m not a player that hasnt’ proven themselves. I’m a player that I feel like have – you know, I talk a lot, but I also have beaten a lot of players and I have won a lot of tournaments. That’s not something I’m focusing on, honestly. I just want to go out there and have fun. I want to put on a good performance. It’s Australian summer. People are expecting me to put on a good show and I think I’m capable of doing that still.”
– Nick Kyrgios of Australia, during a weekend press conference at the Sydney Tennis Classic, which he withdrew from on Monday due to testing positive for COVID-19.