Nick Kyrgios has confirmed he will play Roland-Garros in 2023, although he was keen to stress his decision had nothing to do with tennis.
The Australian will return to the French Open for the first time since 2017, having repeatedly criticised the tournament over the years. In 2021, he branded it the “worst Grand Slam” and called for it to be scrubbed from the calendar.
He admitted that his comeback is because his girlfriend, Costeen Hatzi, wants to see Paris – and he would rather not play.
“My girlfriend wants to know Paris, so I’m going to play at Roland-Garros 2023,” Kyrgios said.
“It will be good for me to earn some more money, although I would have preferred to stay at home.”
Kyrgios has never progressed beyond the third round at the French Open but insists he can put a run together on clay.
“I know I can do great results on clay,” he said. “I beat Roger [Federer], [Stan] Wawrinka, I played a final in Estoril… My girl wants to get to know the city so I will have to go this year.”
Kyrgios also took another swipe at clay-court events in general, claiming there are too many on the ATP calendar.
“I’ve said it many times and I’m saying it again now,” Kyrgios said.
“There are too many clay-court tournaments on the calendar. I see guys in the top 100 that I don’t even know, I wouldn’t recognise them if I crossed them on the street, and they’re there only because of the clay tournaments. I think it’s crazy.”
Kyrgios reached the Wimbledon final earlier in 2022, losing to Novak Djokovic in four sets in his long-awaited Grand Slam breakthrough. He also missed another golden chance for a maiden major title when he fell in the US Open quarter-finals, having already knocked out top seed Daniil Medvedev.
He admitted to Eurosport he is feeling the pressure of expectation on his shoulders as he prepares for the Australian Open.
Playing in the Melbourne tournament, which gets underway on January 16, comes with the additional stress of being Kyrgios’ home Slam. However, he said he is ready for the challenge ahead.
“I always believe that pressure is a privilege,” he said.
“In real life, there’s not much pressure to being a professional tennis player. We earn great money, we travel around the world with our favourite people.
“We get to see different people, different cultures. In the scheme of things, that’s not pressure but I completely understand going on the match court with all this expectation that ‘Nick Kyrgios is legitimate chance to win a Grand Slam now’, there’s a lot of pressure there especially having the Australian Open and everyone in Australia expecting big things from me.
“It’s a lot to handle sometimes. Being in the spotlight is not easy.”
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