Nick Kyrgios: ‘Tennis To Me Is Not My Top Priority’

Nick Kyrgios (photo: Rob Prezioso/Tennis Australia)

WASHINGTON, January 31, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

For much of his professional career, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios has carried a lot of baggage on and off the court. At times charming but also frank, and other times mercurial, one thing’s for certain: Kyrgios doesn’t shy away from expressing what’s on his mind.

“I actually didn’t touch a tennis racquet for the first four of five month of quarantine,” Kyrgios said of his sabbatical from tennis during his press conference Saturday in advance of the start of the ATP 250 Murray River Open, which begins Monday at Melbourne Park. “I wanted to get completely away from it. It was actually tough to start getting back into it.

“I’m not going to lie. I didn’t miss the game that much. I’m a competitor. I compete with everything I do. I was playing computer games, all that kind of stuff, getting my little competitive edge. I didn’t really miss the game at all.”

Like fellow Aussie Ashleigh Barty, the 25-year-old Kyrgios opted to stay put in Canberra, Australia, when the ATP Tour resumed last August following a five-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This was a new year for everyone. Last year was a crazy year,” Kyrgios said. “For me, I was incredibly lucky. I’m from Canberra. Honestly, I think it was the best part of the world during everything. There were no restrictions there for seven months. I was incredibly lucky to just be with my family and friends and just kind of reset on everything.

“I feel mentally completely refreshed, ready to go again. But yeah, I was lucky enough to that [fellow Aussie] Jordan Thompson came down to Canberra for the last month, too, so we were training together.”

The 47th-ranked Kyrgios said he feels like he’s playing well and ready to go – even if it’s been 340 days since his last competitive match. However, he admits that “nobody really knows who is in form and who is not. I’m going to take it day by day and try to enjoy myself as much as I can.”

Last year, Kyrgios appeared in just nine matches and posted a 6-3 win-loss record. Competing for Australia in the ATP Cup, Kyrgios beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jan-Lennard Struff and Cameron Norrie before losing to Roberto Bautista-Agut. Then, he reached the round of 16 in the Australian Open by garnering victories over Lorenzo Sonego, Gilles Simon and Karen Khachanov before losing a four-set thriller to Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4). In his final 2020 appearance, he retired in his first-round match against Ugo Humbert at Acapulco.

In the first round of the Murray River Open, the 13th-seeded Kyrgios will oppose No. 208 Alexandre Muller of France, who earlier this month won two rounds of Australian Open qualifying before losing in the qualifying final round to Aslan Karatsev.

“I’ll wake up, I’ll serve big, I’ll play big, see how it goes,” Kyrgios said of his first match of 2021. When asked, he said he doesn’t prepare differently for an opponent he knows nothing about.

“In my time off I wasn’t thinking about tennis at all,” Kyrgios admitted. “I was going through a couple off-court things. My mum was not so healthy. I was focusing on things that actually matter to me personally. Tennis to me is not my top priority.”


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Free from quarantine, WTA kicks off Australia Summer Series

With 14 of the World’s Top 20 players competing in the Yarra Valley Classic and the Gippsland Trophy, the first two of the WTA’s 500 series events in Melbourne beginning Sunday and running through Saturday, February 6 at Melbourne Park, there’s plenty to be excited about.

The players are finally free from quarantine and free to play tennis. Add to it, a third WTA 500 event that begins February 3 for those who are coming off the strict quarantine due to being exposed to passengers on their flights to Melbourne, who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Australia, and everyone who will be competing in next month’s Australian Open will have an opportunity to get match ready for the year’s first Grand Slam.

The Yarra Valley Classic and the Gippsland Trophy each will feature 54 singles players and 28 doubles teams in the main draw. The top 10 seeds in the singles draw of these events have received first-round byes.

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty is the top seed in the Yarra Valley Classic and reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin is the No. 2 seed. The field also includes seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Martic and Marketa Vondrousova.

“It feels bloody good to be back,” Barty said after her Day at the Drive exhibition match against Simona Halep.

Meanwhile, the Gippsland Trophy features World No. 2 Halep as the top seed and 2020 US Open champion Naomi Osaka is No. 2 seed. Reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek is part of the Gippsland Trophy draw and could face Halep in the quarterfinals. The field also includes Aryna Sabalenka, who has won each of the last three WTA tournaments (Ostrava, Linz, Abu Dhabi) dating back to last November and comes in with a 15-match winning streak; Johanna Konta, and Elise Mertens.

Finally, Bianca Andreescu is the top seed in the third WTA 500 series tournament, the Grampians Trophy, a 28-player singles draw only event. No. 2 seed is Belinda Bencic and the field also includes Victoria Azarenka, Elena Rybakina, Maria Sakkari, Anett Kontaveit, Jennifer Brady and Angelique Kerber.

Kirsten Flipkens: Withdraws from Yarra Valley, hopeful for AO

On Saturday, Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens posted on social media that she’s had to withdraw from the Yarra Valley Classic after injuring her ankle earlier this month at Abu Dhabi in a match against Sofia Kenin. She’s hopeful to be ready to play in the Australian Open, which begins February 8.

Iga Swiatek: Right now, I feel like I’m ready

On Sunday, reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek was asked during a media day press conference for the Gippsland Trophy to describe if she was ready to get on court and play. After all, she’s been idle since winning Roland Garros last October. Swiatek said:

”Well, I’m not anxious. I’m mostly excited. Basically, I have, like, some kind of amount of stress, but it’s [a] normal amount. I don’t feel like more pressure than before [the] French Open. Actually, I’m more kind of confident that I can play good tennis.

“But it all depends on my preparation, on my attitude. Basically, I’m trying to keep my expectations low, even though I did a really good pre-season. I’m just, yeah, waiting for the tournament to start.”

What they’re writing

Simon Briggs of London’s The Daily Telegraph writes about the five Britons coaching singles on the WTA tour and how the cycle of life can be fickle and insecure.

The Way Back Machine: Australian Open semifinals 2009

What they’re sharing on social media

Bianca Andreescu / Way up I feel blessed !!

Naomi Osaka / First pic, most recent pic

Sloane Stephens / Walking out of quarantine like …

Darren Cahill / Reunited with Simo and the band


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Yoshihito Nishioka / First practice after quarantine