Nick Kyrgios has been blasted by tennis fans after deciding to take a six-figure sum to play in Saudi Arabia instead of the Davis Cup final for Australia. The Aussies went down 2-0 to Canada in the Davis Cup final on Sunday, falling agonisingly short of winning the World Cup of men’s tennis for the first time in 19 years.
Australia’s cause was hampered by the fact that Kyrgios opted not to play in the entire tournament and hasn’t featured in the Davis Cup in three years. With Kyrgios missing, Australia did remarkably well even to make the final. However, Alex de Minaur and Thanasi Kokkinakis were no match for Felix Auger Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov as Canada won the final without dropping a set.
Speaking to the world’s media after the final, de Minaur and Aussie team captain Lleyton Hewitt were asked about Kyrgios’ continued absence. When asked if he might be able to persuade Kyrgios, who has enjoyed his most successful season capped by a run to the final at Wimbledon, to join the team again next year, Hewitt shrugged with a weary smile: “I don’t know. You have to ask him. I can’t try any harder.”
Pressed if he’d tried hard to woo him, Hewitt added: “Of course. I try and come here with the best possible team we could field.” De Minaur was then also asked if he might try to persuade his friend, and responded: “I have tried, as well. Just wasn’t meant to be…”
The frustrating thing for Hewitt must be that last week Kyrgios was playing in Europe in doubles with Kokkinakis at the ATP Finals. Kokkinakis hopped straight from Turin to join the team in Malaga, but Kyrgios had already called an end to his breakout singles season early last month.
However he will be playing in exhibition events in Saudi Arabia and Dubai next month. “Saudi Arabia and Dubai is all that’s left. You know I gotta get the bag,” he recently wrote on Instagram. Kyrgios also responded to a fan on social media when asked about his Davis Cup absence, writing: “About to go to Saudi for 6 figures actually.”
Kyrgios’ absence from the national team stretches back to November 2019 when won his last two rubbers for Australia. He had previously trumpeted the Davis Cup format and team environment as some of his favourite times in tennis.
It was hard to escape the feeling in Malaga that this was exactly the high-octane atmosphere in which Kyrgios revels and thrives. An absorbing week’s tennis in the Spanish resort saw enthusiastic crowds following the action.
Nick Kyrgios to play exhibition event in Saudi Arabia
After calling a premature end to his breakout 2022 singles season in early October, Kyrgios will ramp up his preparations for the Australian summer at the Diriyah Tennis Cup exhibition event from December 8-10. Australia’s Wimbledon finalist is seeking priceless match practice against some of the world’s premier players including former No.1 Daniil Medvedev and fellow heavyweights Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Taylor Fritz.
“It’s a bonus for me to be able to play these matches and feel that match pressure still throughout my training block is going to be crucial for me,” Kyrgios said last week. “And use that to get a bit of a head start on everyone else that’s not able to play these matches.”
As well as his run to the Wimbledon final, Kyrgios also made the US Open quarter-finals, claimed a seventh career title in Washington and produced a 37-10 win-loss record. Only Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal had better strike rates in 2022.
“I think before the season started, I was having a conversation with myself that I wanted to kind of reinvent myself on the tour,” he said recently. “I feel like the last couple of years with Covid and everything that was going on, I really felt like I kind of lost my identity a little bit on the tennis circuit.
“This year I kind of reminded everyone that I’m still one of the best players in the world and was able to do that on the big stage – obviously Wimbledon, US Open, and I also won a title. I guess I had a little moment with myself at the start.”
Despite the remarkable season, fans were left fuming that it came at the expense of a Davis Cup appearance. Some described his absence as ‘sad’, while others branded the Aussie star a ‘disgrace’.