Next week’s Berlin exhibition was slammed by last-minute defections from a pair of controversial characters, with Nick Kyrgios preferring not to leave Australia and Alexander Zverev renouncing his home event with no explanation

The no-shows are all down to COVID-19 situation: Kyrgios would have had to face a quarantine when he eventually returned to Oz.

Zverev is still trying to live down the embarrassment of his close-contact partying in the South of France last month which drew criticism throughout the sport at a time when he was to have been in virus quarantine..

On the women’s side,  Latvian Anastasija Sevastova will substitute for Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, who is nursing a foot injury

With the start of play set for Monday, Austrian TD Edwin Weindorfer was working the phones to try and line up substitutes for a showpiece which will feature men’s and women’s matches on grass and inside a disused airport hangar over the course of a week.

The Kyrgios pull might have been expected with the Aussie noted for late withdrawals; Zverev’s management is offering no explanation.

That pull comes just days after Weindorfer specifically warned Zverev that strict social distancing guidelines would be enforced next week during the tournament.  

Tournament Director Edwin Weindorfer is chasing replacements for Berlin Exhibition

“(Zverev) management has informed us that he does not want to play a tournament for the time being and will therefore not travel to Berlin,” Weindorfer said.

“We are disappointed with this decision, because in our view it would have been a good chance for Alexander Zverev to focus on his tennis again in front of an audience in Berlin after the turbulence.” .

As for Kyrgios, a sharp critic of Zverev in recent weeks: “The coronavirus crisis has intensified again in Australia (only in Melbourne, while Kyrgios lives in Canberra nearly 700 kilometres away.

Nick Kyrgios has slammed “party boy” Zverev on social media Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

“When we hired Nick Kyrgios for Berlin in May, this development was not to be expected,” the TD said.

“In the time of Corona, there are always problems with the organisation of tennis tournaments that have occurred before.

“Time is extremely tight, but we will do everything we can to find possible last-minute options.”

The tournament, to be broadcast on Eurosport, will feature four matches per day.

Main photo:- Much criticised Alexander Zverev partying on Cote d’Azur during his “self isolation”

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