‘Cringe factor is off the scale’: Tennis fans savage Kyrgios after ace takes aim at Djokovic again in US Open withdrawal (VIDEO)

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Fans have accused tennis badboy Nick Kyrgios of using the coronavirus pandemic to enhance his personal brand after he took aim at his fellow stars again, declaring his withdrawal from the US Open in a self-righteous video message.

Kyrgios confirmed his withdrawal from the Grand Slam at the end of August in a stern video announcement that came as little surprise given his recent criticism of the decision to proceed with the tournament during the pandemic, claiming that he had “no problem” with the United States Tennis Association and players taking part “so long as everyone acts appropriately and safely.”

Speaking on the Uninterrupted platform – an “athlete empowerment brand” which has more than 466,000 followers on Twitter thanks to being co-founded by NBA star LeBron James – The Australian insisted that “no-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me.”

He explained that he was speaking for “the guy who works in the restaurant, the cleaners and the locker room attendants” before adding: “Fair play to them.”

Kyrgios then returned to his pet subject of recent months by taking aim at world number one Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour events and the players who had taken part in them, many of whom subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

“You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck hosting an exhibition,” said the Australian, who has repeatedly rounded on and antagonized rivals including Djokovic and Borna Coric, describing the Croatian as having a brain the size of a peanut, being boring and “bringing zero to tennis” earlier this week.

“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.”

Djokovic and his fellow participants faced a fierce backlash over his tour event in Belgrade, held in front of 4,000 fans and accompanied by activities that included the players visiting nightclubs, singing and having a game of football and photos together.

New York has had more than 32,000 deaths from around 420,000 virus infections as part of a total of more than 157,000 deaths in the US during the pandemic, and Kyrgios said he would miss the tournament for “the people”, “my Aussies” and “the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their lives.”

“To those players who have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you,” he added, using the hashtag “yours sincerely”.

“It hurts me at my core not to be out there competing in one of the sport’s greatest arenas. It’s my decision, like it or not.”

Many fans were unimpressed with the solemn statement from the world number 40, who is arguably the most controversial and divisive figure in tennis thanks to his reputation for on-court abuse and taste for arguments and a playboy lifestyle away from the sport.

“Oh my god,” scorned one. “I thought I had seen it all this year. Sadly not.

“Cringe factor is off the scale. I mean, who cares why he is not playing? Who wrote that rubbish for him?”

“If I recall correctly, last summer he was throwing a chair in Rome, throwing his racket out of the court in London [and abusing] the umpire in Cincinnati,” pointed out another. “What an amazing example.”

Kyrgios was fined $117,000 for calling official Fergus Murphy a “f*cking tool” at the Cincinnati Masters last August, earning the sanction for verbal abuse, audible swearing and leaving the court.

Calling Kyrgios’s words the most ironic message of the year, a critic asked: “Seriously, Nick?

“You are actually bullsh*tting into our faces by calling for responsibility? It’s a word you don’t even know the meaning of.”

While some applauded Kyrgios and admitted their surprise at being in agreement with him, others mocked the 25-year-old as delusional.

“I think that Kyrgios believes he is really too important,” laughed one. “He reads this statement like it’s [Rafael] Nadal that is withdrawing from Roland Garros.

“I mean, the guy is 40 in the world, he hasn’t really won anything meaningful and he reads [this] like he is the Pope.”

Kyrgios’s compatriot, world number one Ashleigh Barty, also announced this week that she would not be taking part in a tournament that is still expected to feature most of the sport’s leading players.

“I love both events so it was a difficult decision,” the French Open champion said. “But there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.”

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