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16 Jan, 2023 17:48

Tennis bad boy ‘devastated’ to miss Australian Open

Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from his home Grand Slam on eve of his opening match
Tennis bad boy ‘devastated’ to miss Australian Open

Nick Kyrgios, the Australian tennis star whose form sparkled in 2022, has spoken of his devastation at being forced to withdraw from his home-country's Grand Slam on the eve of his scheduled opening match with Roman Safiullin.

The 27-year-old native of Sydney, who is regularly cited as one of the sport’s more controversial characters, was speculated as being among the favorites to claim what would have been his first Grand Slam singles title this month, before the discovery of a knee complaint, which, if left untreated, could threaten the remainder of his 2023 campaign.

Kyrgios, the world’s 21st ranked player, also withdrew from Australian Open warmup events in Adelaide this month, as well as pulling out of the Australian United Cup team in December.

I’m devastated, obviously,” Kyrgios said at a Monday press conference in which he confirmed his absence.

It’s my home tournament, I’ve had some great memories here – obviously last year winning the title in doubles and playing the best tennis of my life probably. Then going into this event as one of the favorites, it’s brutal.”

It was revealed that an MRI scan on Kyrgios’ troublesome knee revealed the development of a cyst which came about as a result of a tear to his meniscus.

The injury, while not career-threatening, could have severely hampered his ability to compete at a high level throughout the 2023 season if subjected to a prolonged run through the Melbourne tournament, according to this physiotherapist Will Maher.

It always goes back to the last grand slam I played, the US Open,” he added.

I was extremely hard on myself after that loss in the quarter-finals, thinking that I could win it from there on. I just had the Aus Open on the back of my mind from that day forth as soon as I got off the court against [Karen] Khachanov.

I always wanted to just do everything right and train right and tick every box, and just be ready for the Aus Open.”

Maher added that Kyrgios’ knee didn't respond as anticipated following an exhibition match with Novak Djokovic on Friday, which ultimately prompted the decision to pull out of the event and seek minor surgery.

I think we’ve made the sensible decision to withdraw him because at this stage he wants to feel mentally comfortable that he can go seven matches, he can go the distance, and needs to be able to do potentially seven three-hour matches. Getting on the court simply wasn’t enough for him.”

Kyrgios and his medical staff have identified the Indian Wells Masters in March as a target for his return - but until then, he can do little but rest up.

I’m not doubting I will be back to my full strength and playing the tennis I was playing prior to this event. All I can do now is just look forward, do what I need to do and come back.”

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