Nick Kyrgios’ return to the ATP Tour remains a waiting game, with the controversial Aussie ace set to miss this month’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters but eager to soon improve his world ranking.
Last year’s Wimbledon finalist, who has been nursing a knee injury this year, is just one of a trio of the world’s top 50 players who will be absent from the picturesque clay tournament in the Monaco principality.
The 27-year-old has never been a clay court fan, although he may well return from knee surgery by competing at the French Open. He last played at Roland Garros in 2017, although his record on the Parisien red clay is pretty poor having never got further than the third round.
Despite having propelled himself as a big draw on the pro circuit, the Canberra-born star has simply never shone on clay. During the 2022 campaign he opted to play just one clay event, reaching the quarter-finals before gifting US opponent Michael Mmoh a walkover to the last four at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas.
Kyrgios, who has slipped out of the world’s top 20 this year having missed the ATP Tour since October’s Japan Open, is most unlikely to compete in any of the lead-up tournaments ahead of the French Open (starting 28 May). The most important ones include the ATP 1000 events at Monte Carlo (9 April), Madrid in Spain (26 April) and the Italian Open in Rome (10 May).
Bahamas-based Kyrgios was last on court in public for an entertaining exhibition match against Serbian icon and last year’s Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic. This was when he aggravated his knee injury, just ahead of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
He hasn’t played since, but he has recently boldly challenged Swiss maestro Roger Federer to come out of retirement for an exhibition match.
Already a grand slam winner
Kyrgios got his 2022 off to a bang by winning the Australian Men’s doubles crown with compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis. Then followed it up with an incredible run to the Wimbledon final and the US Open quarter-finals with his cavalier attitude and attacking play.
This year his hard work is swiftly evaporating as he’s sliding down the world rankings almost as quickly as he climbed them.
As a fans’ favourite, the organisers at the next grand slam will be hoping that Kyrgios makes it to Paris. He’ll be keen to collect some world ranking points ahead of another shot at bagging the top prize on the grass courts at SW19.
Although clay can notoriously be tough on the body, and Kyrgios often skips this part of the season, it makes sense for him to get some competitive action before the grass court season gets into swing.
The odds on Kyrgios
For those who fancy an outside shot at Kyrgios, who’ll be as fresh as a daisy to succeed at Roland Garros, a few operators with bonus bet offers are placing him at a 200/1 shot to lift his maiden grand slam singles title on 11 June.
The usual suspects will be gunning for glory. Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz (19/10) as well as veterans Djokovic (19/10) and Rafael Nadal (7/2) are the overwhelming favourites in Paris.
With Alcaraz set to return to action in Monte Carlo, he may have the chance to reclaim the coveted world no.1 spot from Djokovic — having lost it this month after being halted in the Miami Open semi-finals.
Spanish superstar Nadal has a record-breaking 14 French Open titles, so will be a top contender despite his current hip injury.
Other players expected to challenge for the crown include Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas (14/1), dynamic Dane Holger Rune (14/1), intelligent Italian Jannik Sinner (16/1), German giant Alexander Zverev (17/1) and nifty Norwegian Casper Ruud (20/1).
The field appears wide open, and anything can happen on the day on clay, as Kyrgios will be hoping if he joins in the action.
Although youth and energy have traditionally won tennis titles, composure and verve reap the rewards. Watch out for Kyrgios, given time off-court to add to his armory on his return to the ATP pro circuit.