Isner says he’ll skip Australian Open because of COVID-19

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — John Isner says he’ll skip the Australian Open because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Isner disclosed his decision Monday night after losing to fellow American Sebastian Korda in the quarterfinals of the Delray Beach Open.

Isner, 35, has two young children and said he wanted his family to travel together to “make it as much fun as possible on the road … because I won’t be playing tennis forever.” But that’s not possible because of the virus, he said, and going to Australia this year would have meant too much time away from his family.

Isner, a former top 10 player now ranked 25th, lost to Korda 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Korda and American Christian Harrison each won playing in his first career quarterfinal.

The 20-year-old Korda is a former World No. 1 junior who achieved career-high ranking of No. 116 last fall. His father, 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, played at Delray Beach twice but never advanced beyond the second round.

Korda’s opponent in the semifinals will be Cameron Norrie of Britain, who outlasted No. 8-seeded Frances Tiafoe of the United States 6-0, 3-6, 6-4. Norrie saved nine of 11 break points.

Harrison beat Gianluca Mager of Italy 7-6 (2), 6-4, and his opponent Tuesday will be No. 4-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who swept qualifier Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador 6-4, 6-4.

The 26-year-old Harrison’s career has been slowed by injuries that required surgery eight times, and he came into the tournament ranked No. 789. He has five ATP Tour match victories, with three of them coming in the past week. He also won two matches in qualifying.

“It feels pretty amazing,” Harrison said. “I’m pretty even-keeled right now – just happy to keep playing.”

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last month to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.