John Millman is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of fellow Aussies Ashleigh Barty and Nick Kyrgios and may play the US Open.
World No 1 Barty had announced earlier in the week that she will skip the hard-court Slam due to ‘significant risks involved due to Covid-19’. Kyrgios, who has been against the staging of the Grand Slam, also said he will not be competing.
But Millman may play the US Open, mainly for the financial incentive. The Australian, currently ranked No 43 in the world, has earned USD 282,114 this season before the tennis tours shut down in March due to the pandemic.
“I definitely have my safety concerns and potentially there are a few more questions I’d like to be answered because a couple of the tennis players have shown they can’t really be trusted with a bit of their behavior,” Millman told the Sydney Morning Herald in an interview.
“Look, my situation is probably slightly different to Ash. I probably need to start earning a living again, to be honest with you.”
Millman’s major breakthrough came at the US Open, when he beat Roger Federer in the fourth round in 2018 to reach the quarterfinal. It is his best performance at a Slam so far.
“I respect the decision that Ash made and it’s something that I’ve contemplated a lot, too. But tennis is an individual sport and we’re our own private contractors pretty much,” he added.
The US Open will be the first Grand Slam staged since the pandemic began. It is scheduled to begin on August 31 and will be played behind closed doors.
Perched at the pinnacle of the sport, Grand Slams also provide players with the biggest pay cheques. Rewards may just outweigh the risk for a lot of players, especially those not ranked consistently in the top-20, when they decide on whether to play the Open.
“It’s unchartered territory for a lot of people. The USTA, who are in charge of the US Open, they’re almost the guinea pigs. I’m sure they’re going to be trying their utmost to provide (a) safe environment,” Millman added.
“Obviously it’s a little worrying when you look at the state that the United States is in, in their response to COVID. I’m probably a little bit more hesitant just based on what we’ve seen the last few months, you know, with the goings-on of a few of the players.
“Hopefully some bigger sanctions, some bigger fines can be put into place for anyone breaching the safety of others because that’s the most important thing.