Kyrgios out of Australian ATP Cup team as world ranking slips

Nick Kyrgios of Australia
Nick Kyrgios of Australia

Nick Kyrgios has paid the price for a year of inaction over Covid-19 concerns after he was ruled out of Australia's team for next month's ATP Cup after his world ranking slipped to number 46 following a 11-month absence from the ATP Tour.

The 25-year-old last played a competitive match at Acapulco in February after deciding to remain at home in Australia when the circuit resumed in Europe and North America after a hiatus.

Each nation have two singles slots that will be taken by their top-ranked players and Australia's challenge at the ATP Cup will be led by Alex de Minaur and John Millman who are ranked 23 and 38, respectively.

The duo will be joined by doubles players John Peers and Luke Saville as Australia look to improve on their semi-final finish at last year's inaugural tournament.

The ATP Cup will be held from February 1-5 in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam, and the event will feature world number one Novak Djokovic and second-ranked Rafa Nadal.

"The players are looking forward to stepping up and representing their countries again, and the field, including defending champions Serbia and finalists Spain, is strong," tournament director Tom Larner said.

"This is a format that shows off the passion of the players and we're expecting some spectacular tennis action."

The draw for the ATP Cup will take place on January 20.

Kyrgios, often branded "polarising" for his long rap sheet of indiscretions, had been a galvanising force in raising funds and awareness for Australian bushfire relief efforts during the ATP Cup last year.

He will now play in Melbourne 2, one of two ATP 250 events being held alongside the ATP Cup. Melbourne Park is also hosting two WTA 500 tournaments alongside the event.

Meanwhile, the WTA announced a provisional calendar for the women's tour with events lined up until the Wimbledon championships in June-July.

The sport's governing body had previously announced the first seven weeks of the tour, starting with the season-opening WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi from Thursday.

Apart from the three Grand Slams - Australian Open (starting February 8), French Open (May 23) and Wimbledon (June 28) - the first half of the year will have four WTA 1000 events in Dubai and Miami (both in March), Madrid (April) and Rome (May).

Other WTA 500 events on the schedule include Doha and St Petersburg (March) and Charleston and Stuttgart (April).

The rebranded Fed Cup, now known as the Billie Jean King Cup, is scheduled to start on April 12.

However, there is no new date announced for the prestigious BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, often called the "fifth major" and usually held in March, which was postponed last week due to Covid-19 concerns.

The 2020 edition of the tournament was the first major professional sporting event in the United States cancelled in the wake of the pandemic, on the eve of its scheduled start.

The WTA also said it has yet to decide on the dates for its season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China after last year's edition was cancelled due to the pandemic.

- Reuters


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