Showdown off as Zverev and Kyrgios pull out

Alexander Zverev (left) was blasted by Nick Kyrgios for being "selfish" after he was filmed partying days after a coronavirus scare, despite pledging to follow self-isolating guidelines. PHOTO: REUTERS
Alexander Zverev (left) was blasted by Nick Kyrgios for being "selfish" after he was filmed partying days after a coronavirus scare, despite pledging to follow self-isolating guidelines. PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN • The highly awaited showdown between under-fire Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios, who blasted the German for being "selfish" after he was filmed partying days after a coronavirus scare, was cancelled on Wednesday after both men withdrew from an exhibition event in Berlin.

They had been slated to join world No. 3 Dominic Thiem at the men's and women's event from July 13-19.

"I was planning this month to play in Berlin, but I have made the decision to stay put and train with my team and not play any tournaments at the moment," German Zverev, ranked seventh, said via an Instagram story video. "It's never nice to miss the chance to play at home, but I will be back soon."

Australian Kyrgios, ranked 40th in the world, is also out amid travel concerns as the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened in his country, with Melbourne back under lockdown.

"When we got Nick Kyrgios involved in May, this development wasn't to be expected," said tournament director Edwin Weindorfer.

The Austrian added he was struggling to replace Zverev and Kyrgios, two of the biggest draws to the Berlin tournament.

"Time is extremely short, but we will do everything we can to find possible last-minute options."

News of the withdrawals comes after Kyrgios launched a verbal assault on Zverev and Thiem.

Zverev was filmed partying in a busy bar, despite pledging to follow self-isolating guidelines after playing in Novak Djokovic's coronavirus-disrupted Adria Tour in the Balkans last month.

This year's Australian Open semi-finalist tested negative, but Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric were all infected by Covid-19.

Zverev confirmed on Wednesday he had returned a third negative test result for the virus and looks to be in the clear.

On his tournament, Djokovic, who has since also tested negative, has continued to be defensive about its staging amid the crisis.

The world No. 1 received plenty of flak for disregarding safe distancing and holding after-event parties in nightclubs, but he told Serbian daily Sportski Zurnal on Wednesday it was akin to a "witch hunt".

"I see nothing but critics lately, many malicious," he said. "Obviously, there is something more than criticism, as if there is an agenda, someone has to 'fall', a personality, a big name has to be the main culprit for everything."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2020, with the headline 'Showdown off as Zverev and Kyrgios pull out'. Print Edition | Subscribe