Nick Kyrgios reckons he would have been slapped with a lengthy ban if he had struck a linesperson, as Novak Djokovic did at the US Open.

World number one Djokovic was stunningly disqualified after hitting the official with a ball during his last-16 clash with Pablo Carreno Busta.

It was not intentional, but nonetheless the Serbian's careless act saw him kicked out of the tournament he was favourite to win.

There is no love lost between Kyrgios, who has endured his own disciplinary issues, and Djokovic, with the Australian claiming he would suffer a far worse punishment.

He tweeted: "Swap me for jokers incident. 'Accidentally hitting the ball kid in the throat' how many years would I be banned for?"

Underneath was a list of three answers, offering followers to choose the length of his hypothetical ban in years.

Of the available options – five, 10 and 20 years – the latter was the most popular, with more than half of the almost 160,000 votes cast.

Kyrgios has been critical of Djokovic's approach to the coronavirus crisis, with the 17-time grand slam winner having organised an exhibition tour at which several players contracted COVID-19.

In May last year, Kyrgios was himself defaulted from a match after reacting badly to receiving a game penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in a second-round clash with Casper Ruud at the Italian Open.

Kyrgios kicked out in disgust and launched a chair before walking off as he was disqualified by the umpire.

Djokovic did not partake in any media activities after his moment of madness, but he did post a message on Instagram.

"This whole situation has left me really sad and empty," he said.

"I checked on the line person and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok. I'm extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I'm not disclosing her name to respect her privacy.

"As for the disqualification, I need to go back within and work on my disappointment and turn this all into a lesson for my growth and evolution as a player and human being.

"I apologise to the @usopen tournament and everyone associated for my behaviour. I'm very grateful to my team and family for being my rock support, and my fans for always being there with me. Thank you and I'm so sorry."

Djokovic's exit means there will be a first-time major winner in the men's draw in New York.

Tennis had a rotten lockdown but now the professional tours are emerging from hibernation. 

The men must wait a fortnight, but in Sicily a number of leading women will, from Monday, take part in the Palermo Open, a minor clay-court event that will face scrutiny like it has never known before. 

Tennis must prove it can stage events responsibly, not least because the sport's reputation took a hit with the calamitous ad hoc Adria Tour. That event saw stars including men's world number one Novak Djokovic, whose brainchild it was, and Grigor Dimitrov hit by coronavirus. 

The ATP and the WTA, governing bodies of the men's and women's tours respectively, will apply stringent rules and demand impeccable player compliance over the coming months. 

They have already seen tennis wiped out in China for the rest of the year, on top of Wimbledon's cancellation, and can ill afford any further momentous setbacks. 

At the end of August, the US Open is due to begin at Flushing Meadows, a behind-closed-doors grand slam.

But with a number of leading players already opting out or showing reluctance to travel during the pandemic period, it would be easier to return a barrage of John Isner serves than to accurately figure how the rest of the tennis year pans out. 

Sicily for starters

Palermo organisers expected Simona Halep, the world number two and reigning Wimbledon champion, to join them, and it was with "great bitterness" that they acknowledged the news she would be staying at home in Romania. 

Halep cited rising COVID-19 cases in her home country and her own "anxieties around international air travel". 

Jelena Ostapenko, Johanna Konta and Svetlana Kuznetsova were among others to pull out, with a number of factors behind the loss of a host of the event's star attractions. 

Arguably, though, the standard of the tennis in the week ahead will pale into insignificance against the success of the tournament from a health and safety perspective. 

One player tested positive for coronavirus after arriving in Palermo, organisers said on Saturday, and was kept away from all others, withdrawing from the tournament. 

The eyes of the tennis world will focus on the modest ASD Country Time Club, not least because a small number of tennis fans will also be allowed entry. 

American trilogy

Can the United States, where over 150,000 have died with coronavirus, provide safe haven for the biggest stars in tennis later this month? 

Authorities are optimistic ahead of a disrupted US hard-court swing getting under way, but there can be no guarantees, despite best efforts. There are three major tournaments in the US in August, each brimming with the biggest names in the game. 

A new WTA event in Kentucky was announced in mid-July, and starts on August 10, with a field boasting Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff.  

From Kentucky, the best women's players in the world will head to New York for the Western and Southern Open, relocated to Flushing Meadows from Cincinnati this year in a move to save the tournament. 

That event, scheduled to run from August 21 to 28, is where the elite men make their re-entrance, with no ATP events scheduled until then. 

And the following week sees the US Open get under way at the same venue - all being well. 

Players will be expected to keep to their tournament bubbles throughout, tests will be carried out and players closely monitored. Any slip-ups could spell peril. 

Who's coming back? Who's not?

Halep is skipping Palermo and as of Sunday, August 2, she was not listed for the Western and Southern Open; however, she may play an event in Prague, starting on August 10. 

Given Halep's clear travel concerns, it would be little surprise were she to skip the US Open, which is a decision world number one Ash Barty has already taken. Barty's fellow Australian, Nick Kyrgios, has also chosen not to travel to the United States. 

Great Britain's Andy Murray, who appears keen to head to the States, has suggested a number of leading male players will swerve the US tournaments, yet the likes of Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Dominic Thiem have entered the Western and Southern Open. 

Any of those players could still pull out, Nadal having notably expressed misgivings about international travel during lockdown. 

But will the temptation to go after another grand slam title at the US Open prove too alluring? Nadal is just one behind Roger Federer's record haul of 20 men's singles slams, with Djokovic having 17 majors to his name. 

Federer is sitting out all this drama, having undergone season-ending knee surgery. 

It comes as no surprise to see Serena Williams, one short of Margaret Court's women's record of 24 singles slams, committing fully to the weeks ahead. 

With no Barty and perhaps no Halep, Williams, who turns 39 next month, may perhaps never have a better opportunity to draw level with Court.

Australian star Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the upcoming US Open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The US Open is schedule to start on August 31 in New York, however, Kyrgios will not feature at Flushing Meadows out of respect for his fellow Australians and the Americans who have died from COVID-19.

Kyrgios has been outspoken during the ATP Tour's lockdown, hitting out at Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour – an exhibition event in June which saw the Serbian star, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki test positive for coronavirus.

"Let's take a breath here and remember what's important, which is health and safety as a community. We can re-build our sport and the economy but we can never recover lives lost," Kyrgios said in a video published by Uninterrupted, following WTA number one and countrywoman Ashleigh Barty in sitting out the grand slam.

"I have got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open and if players want to go, that's up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely. No-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me. I am speaking for the guy who works in the restaurants, the cleaners and the locker room attendants. These are the people who need their jobs back the most and fair play to them.

"But tennis players - we 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 an 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.

"To those players who 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.

"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.

"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. It is my decision, like it or not. And those are my reasons."

Nick Kyrgios took a swipe at Borna Coric after the Croatian said he does not care about the Australian's criticism of Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour.

World number one Djokovic, Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki all tested positive for coronavirus at the exhibition event as social-distancing guidelines were ignored.

Alexander Zverev, who also featured, came under fire after he was apparently spotted partying despite saying he would quarantine for two weeks.

The outspoken Kyrgios criticised those who played at the event and branded Zverev "selfish".

Coric responded, telling Croatia's Jutarnji List newspaper: "I read what he wrote, but I simply don't care because he likes to be a general after a battle.

"If someone else was teaching lessons I would have understood, but Kyrgios...it's somehow not realistic.

"I agree that was not good, Zverev acted badly but I don't see the need to criticise fellow players in such a way. I wouldn't do it, but again, it's Kyrgios."

Kyrgios slammed the comments and said Coric's "intellectual level" is zero.

"You should care. Do you have rocks in your head?" Kyrgios, who added a donut emoji at the end of his post, wrote on Twitter.

"Again, you can stand up for your mates, I'm just trying to hold them accountable. When I said what I said, I didn't intend to bother.

"They are tennis players, they aren't special. Just as I thought, Coric intellectual level = 0."

Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Boris Becker after the German legend branded him a "rat" over his public criticism of Alexander Zverev.

World number seven Zverev was labelled as "selfish" by Kyrgios after he was apparently spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev took part in the Adria Tour where several players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, tested positive for coronavirus and, although he returned a negative result himself, promised to isolate, with guidelines recommending 14 days.

Becker, a winner of six grand slams, called out Kyrgios' public criticism, leading to the duo exchanging a few virtual volleys on Twitter.

"We all live in the pandemic called #Covid_19 ! It's terrible and it killed to many lives...we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don't like #rats @NickKyrgios," Becker wrote on Twitter.

Kyrgios defended himself, writing: "Rats? For holding someone accountable? Strange way to think of it champion, I'm just looking out for people. WHEN my family and families all over the world have respectfully done the right thing. And you have a goose waving his arms around, imma say something."

The argument was not done there, though, with Becker once again repeating his earlier insult.

"Don't like no #rats ! Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine! Look yourself in the mirror and think your better than us...@NickKyrgios."

To which Kyrgios responded: "For goodness sake Boris, I'm not competing or trying to throw anyone under the bus. It's a global pandemic and if someone is as idiotic as Alex to do what he has done, I'll call him out for it. Simple."

The back-and-forth exchange did not end there, with Kyrgios saying Becker is a "bigger doughnut than I thought" and he "can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though".

Becker continued the argument, with the retort: "Your [sic] funny guy ....how is it down under? Respect all the guidelines?" before somewhat bizarrely attempting to change tact.

"I really would like to see @NickKyrgios fulfil his potential and win a grand slam! He would be an incredible role model for the youth of the world addressing the issues of equality/race/heritage! Man up buddy and deliver!" Becker commented.

Kyrgios, though, was in little mood to change the topic of discussion.

"Why are you now talking about tennis? It has nothing to do with tennis? How about the dude who you are defending mans up and gives us some sort of explanation? Not another average management apology," he wrote.

Nick Kyrgios hit out at Alexander Zverev for being "selfish" after apparently being spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev, the world number seven, played at the Adria Tour, where Novak Djokovic was among several players to test positive for coronavirus, as social-distancing guidelines were ignored earlier this month.

In a statement released on Twitter on June 22, Zverev said he tested negative for COVID-19 but would follow self-isolation rules, with 14 days usually recommended.

But the German was reportedly spotted partying and Kyrgios blasted the 23-year-old.

"So I wake up and I see more controversial things happening all over the world," Kyrgios said in an Instagram video.

"But one just stuck out for me was seeing 'Sascha' Zverev again, man, again, again, how selfish can you be? How selfish can you be?

"I mean if you have the audacity to f****** put out a tweet that you made your management write on your behalf saying you're going to self-isolate for 14 days and apologising to the f****** general public for putting their health at risk, at least have the audacity to stay inside for 14 days, my God.

"Have your girlfriend with you for f****** 14 days, Jesus man. Pissing me off, this tennis world is pissing me off, seriously, how selfish can you all get?"

The ATP Tour season is scheduled to restart in August, having been suspended in March due to COVID-19.

There have been more than 10.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 504,000.

Nick Kyrgios aimed further criticism at Novak Djokovic and those who participated in the Adria Tour after it was revealed the world number one had tested positive for coronavirus.

Djokovic and his wife Jelena returned positive tests in Belgrade and must isolate for 14 days.

The 33-year-old was a driving force behind the creation of the Adria Tour, which took place in Serbia and Croatia in front of large crowds and saw players shaking hands despite concerns over social distancing. 

The final between Djokovic and Andrey Rublev was cancelled when Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for COVID-19.

Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki, who both competed in the tournament, have also contracted the virus.

Kyrgios labelled the decision to go ahead with the tour as "boneheaded" following Coric's announcement of a positive test on Monday.

And, responding to a video showing Djokovic and others at the tournament partying shirtless together, Kyrgios directed further criticism at the 17-time grand slam champion.

He posted on Twitter: "Prayers up to all the players that have contracted Covid - 19. Don't @ me for anything I've done that has been 'irresponsible' or classified as 'stupidity' - this takes the cake."

 

Nick Kyrgios accused US Open organisers of being "selfish" for reportedly pushing on with plans to stage the grand slam amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports on Monday suggested the United States Tennis Association will confirm the tournament will begin on August 31 as planned, even though New York City continues to grapple with COVID-19.

This year's Wimbledon was cancelled in April while the French Open has been pushed back from May to September.

However, the US Open appears set to start on time, albeit without fans present and with protocols in place because of the pandemic.

Men's world number one Novak Djokovic expressed reservations about remaining at a hotel between matches and only being allowed one other person with him at Flushing Meadows.

Rafael Nadal, the defending men's singles champion, indicated he would be unwilling to travel to the United States to defend his title while the virus remains prevalent.

Australian Kyrgios has now added his voice to the chorus of disapproval.

He wrote on Twitter: "Smh [shaking my head] - people that live in the US of course are pushing the Open to go ahead. 'Selfish' I'll get my hazmat suit ready for when I travel from Australia and then have to quarantine for 2 weeks on my return."

There have been over two million cases of coronavirus in the USA, where more than 118,000 people have died due to the virus.

Nick Kyrgios looked to be out to make amends with rival Rafael Nadal as he offered the Spanish great a video call.

Kyrgios' unique style of play has repeatedly provoked spiky responses from Nadal throughout his career.

And with neither man in action amid the coronavirus pandemic, Kyrgios is keen to entertain fans by sharing an Instagram Live with Nadal.

Kyrgios responded to a BBC Sport post that suggested a series of potentially spicy calls - including a possible conversation between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Rafa, let's do Instagram Live together," he commented. "I'm down with it."

Nadal was asked about the Australian in Melbourne at the opening grand slam of 2020.

"I don't know [if I like him]. I don't know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion," Nadal said.

"It's clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don't like."

The 19-time major champion more complimentary of Kyrgios later in the Australian Open after battling past his opponent, but their rivalry endures.

Nick Kyrgios has vowed to help anyone who has fallen on hard times due to the coronavirus crisis by delivering food to their doorstep.

Australian world number 40 Kyrgios on Monday took to Instagram to offer his support for those struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He wrote: "If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough...please don't go to sleep with an empty stomach.

"Don't be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share what I have. Even just for a box of noodles, a load of bread or milk.

"I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked."

Unemployment is expected to soar in Australia following as a result of such unprecedented times, with businesses forced to close.

Kyrgios also played a huge part in raising funds for the bushfire crisis in his homeland earlier this year.

Nick Kyrgios hit out at fans after being booed off court following his decision to retire against Ugo Humbert at the Mexican Open.

Kyrgios was the defending champion in Acapulco but lasted just one set - losing it 6-3 - before opting to quit due to a troublesome wrist injury.

The announcement did not go down well with fans who roundly jeered the Australian as he gathered his belongings and left the arena.

Kyrgios was unapologetic afterwards and felt he did not deserve the criticism that came his way.

Asked about the boos, he told reporters: "I couldn't give a f***. I literally couldn't give a f***.

"I'm not healthy. I tried to come here, I tried to play. I've been doing media for the tournament and helping out.

"I tried to play, I tried to give the fans a little bit of tennis and they're disrespectful.

"I honestly just really couldn't give a f***."

Kyrgios has had a solid start to 2020, helping Australia reach the semi-finals of the inaugural ATP Cup before going down in four sets to Rafael Nadal in the last 16 at the Australian Open.

He was forced to pull out of the Delray Beach Open last week due to the wrist problem, however.

"I've been dealing with a bit of a wrist injury, obviously, for the last couple of weeks," he added.

"After the Australian Open I took a week and a half off and then I started hitting again, I started feeling my wrist."

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev moved through at the Mexican Open, while Nick Kyrgios was booed as his title defence came to an end.

A two-time champion of the event, top seed Nadal cruised past Spanish compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-3 6-2 on Tuesday.

In competitive action for the first time since the Australian Open, Nadal needed just 90 minutes to post his fourth victory in as many meetings with Andujar.

Zverev, the second seed at the ATP 500 tournament, survived an early battle before getting past Jason Jung 7-6 (8-6) 6-1.

Last year's runner-up, Zverev served 12 aces and broke four times in his victory.

Kyrgios beat Zverev in the final in 2019, but the Australian lasted just 31 minutes in the first round.

Ugo Humbert took the first set 6-3 when Kyrgios retired due to a wrist injury, the 24-year-old receiving some boos as he left the court.

Kyrgios was the only seed to fall as Felix Auger-Aliassime, John Isner, Grigor Dimitrov and Dusan Lajovic advanced at the hard-court tournament.

Taylor Fritz, Pedro Martinez and Kwon Soon-woo were also among the winners.

At the Chile Open in Santiago, seeds Juan Ignacio Londero, Federico Delbonis and Thiago Monteiro all got through their first-round matches.

Nick Kyrgios mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant but said the NBA legend's achievements were an inspiration to him during his Australian Open clash with Rafael Nadal.

Home hope Kyrgios walked onto the court wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey adorned with the number eight Bryant made famous at the start of his two-decade career with the franchise. 

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

Taking to Rod Laver Arena the following day, an emotional Kyrgios succumbed to a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) loss against the world number one, but revealed Bryant's passing had been on his mind.

"I never met Kobe but basketball is practically my life. I watch it every day. I've been following it for as long as I can remember," said Kyrgios.

"When I woke up to the news, it was pretty emotional. It was pretty heavy, like, all day. Obviously I was having basketball on at my house, watching the games. It was heavy. It's just tough. It's horrible news.

"If you look at the things he stood for, what he wanted to be remembered by, I felt like, if anything, it helped me tonight. When I was down a break in the fourth, I was definitely thinking about it. I fought back."

Kyrgios is a fan of the Boston Celtics, a side who were often on the receiving end of Bryant's brilliance, but the 24-year-old had long admired the five-time NBA champion's skill and dedication to his craft.

"I'm a Celtic fan. When I saw Kobe do what he does, break the hearts of so many Celtics fans, it was tough to see," he said.

"I don't think they make them like him anymore. He was different, the way he trained, the way he did things, the way he played. He was special."

Rafael Nadal conceded nerves almost got the better of him at one stage against Nick Kyrgios but feels he is playing better every day after booking an Australian Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem.

The world number one hit 64 winners to just 27 unforced errors to impressively beat a motivated Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) in a tense fourth-round encounter.

While the Australian acknowledged Nadal had performed better than him on the biggest points, the Spaniard noted he had struggled at one key period on Monday.

Serving for the match at 5-4 up in the fourth set, he lost the game to allow Kyrgios back into the match and had to make a gutsy hold soon after just to force a second tie-break, which he ultimately won.

"I played a bad game, that's true," said Nadal. "I was playing great with my serve, winning all the games with very positive feelings. 

"In the 5-4 game, like everybody, I get a little bit more nerves, I was nervous at that moment.

"I played a bad game. I accept I was more nervous at that moment. I am humble enough to accept that sometimes I am nervous and I can have mistakes. That's what happened.

"I kept going, because in the next game I have 15-40 again. I was not able to achieve the break but I said after it got to 6-5, 'I need to forget the bad game with my serve, we are still very close to the victory'. 

"I needed to play with the right determination until the end of this set. I can lose, I can win, but I cannot play with more nerves than what I should. I did it already once, and I didn't want to repeat that. 

"And I think I didn't – in the 6-5 I played a great game with my serve. In the tie-break, I was serving well. I played a solid tie-break.

"Anything could happen in the tie-breaks. Both of them have been very close."

Nadal is optimistic about the state of his game after reaching a 12th Australian Open quarter-final, with the Kyrgios match being the first time he has dropped a set at the tournament.

He added: "I am moving in the right direction. Every day I'm playing a little bit better.

"Very tough match next against Dominic. He's playing well. I saw him play against Gael Monfils and he was playing tennis at a very high level.

"We know each other well. He's a player that I like a lot, the way that he works, the way that he plays, and the way that he tries his best always.

"It is a match that going to be a tough one, but it will be interesting, no? I am excited to play this quarter-final. I know I have to be at my best to have chances."

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