By Catherine McKenzie
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Australian Open organiser John McEnroe has a warning for world number 10 Johanna Konta and fellow Aussie players Ashleigh Barty and Nick Kyrgios: get vaccinated, or you will miss out on the year’s first Grand Slam.
With temperatures expected to hit 40C in Melbourne, McEnroe, who has criticised both players for their lack of commitment to the sport this year, has told the trio to get a flu jab to protect themselves and the spectators.
“Ahead of the Australian Open you need to protect yourself. You are at the prime time of the year,” McEnroe told BBC Radio 5 live.
“Make a decision about how much you want to participate this year and make sure you are 100% certain you are going to be healthy, and make sure people are around you who really care about you.”
Konta’s body language has sparked much scrutiny over her relationship with coach Magdalena Rybarikova since her round three exit at the US Open, while British number one Kyrgios was questioned earlier this month about his motivation for the game, after a run of poor results that saw him crash out in the first round of the Shanghai Masters.
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However, McEnroe rejected the suggestion that their attitude to the game was partly to blame for what has been a disappointing year.
“Let’s be very clear – if they want to skip the Australian Open they will not miss it,” he said.
“I would encourage them to take care of their health and be aware of what’s going on around them and go and do what is best for themselves.
“The Australian Open is the biggest tournament in the world with four good young players at the top and many other good players. They want to do what’s best for themselves and get a good run at it this year.”
However, he took the opportunity to praise 21-year-old Konta for her fighting spirit, in the wake of her loss to eventual champion Naomi Osaka in New York last week.
“People are getting critical, people are critical of everything you do. I think Johanna Konta is handling herself in a very classy way,” he said.
“She wants to be at the top and she wants to stay there. She’s got a team around her who are helping her and making sure she is doing everything she needs to do.
“Obviously a defeat like she had in New York is very painful but that’s a part of sport.”
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