Nick Kyrgios has shared an eye-opening glimpse into the lengths he went to in order to be fit for the Australian Open, after announcing his withdrawal from the grand slam on Monday. A meniscus tear forced the withdrawal of the World No.23 in a major disappointment for tennis fans.
Kyrgios himself was perhaps most disappointed of all, declaring it 'hasn't been easy' in the weeks leading up to the season-opening slam. The 27-year-old shared an image of the aftermath of a procedure done to drain a cyst that had developed on his injured knee.
He underwent the procedure prior to last Friday's exhibition match against Novak Djokovic, which he and his team used to determine if he would have the fitness for a genuine tilt at the Australian Open. But with soreness lingering in the aftermath of the hit-out with Djokovic, Kyrgios was ultimately forced to make the difficult decision to withdraw.
Kyrgios fronted a press conference on Monday afternoon to explain the reasons behind his withdrawal, which followed last-minute withdrawals from both the United Cup and Adelaide International in the weeks prior to the Australian Open. He was accompanied by his physiotherapist, Will Maher, who shed more light on the exact circumstances of Kyrgios' injury.
"Unfortunately, during the last week or so Nick's experienced some discomfort in his knee," Maher said. "He had routine MRI just to make sure everything was OK. There's a parameniscal cyst growing on his lateral meniscus, which is a result of a small tear in his lateral meniscus.
"It's not a significant injury in the sense that it's going to be career threatening or anything like that. It was even at that stage it was still worth persevering to see if we could do anything to get him back on court.
"And to Nick's credit, he did try everything to the point even last week, he was having a procedure to drain the cyst and any amount of injections that he could try and get in his knee without causing long-term damage.
"He still tried to give himself every chance in the following days (after the Djokovic match) to have subsequent training but it was clear that with each passing session that he was getting sorer and sorer. So we've made a sensible decision to withdraw him because, at this stage, he wants to feel mentally comfortable that he can go seven matches ... getting on the court simply wasn't enough."
Nick Kyrgios 'devastated' after injury forces Australian Open withdrawal
After a sensational 2022 season, capped by his runner-up appearance in the Wimbledon final, many had hoped Kyrgios would be well placed for a breakthrough grand slam victory. Instead, the 27-year-old was left heartbroken by the turn of events.
“There’s obviously mixture of emotions,” Kyrgios said. “I guess after the US Open ... I was extremely hard on myself after that loss in the quarter-finals.
"Obviously thinking that I could win it from there on, and obviously just had Oz 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 Oz Open. Obviously this coming around is just bad timing. But that’s life. Injury is a part of the sport. I guess I can draw some inspiration from someone like Thanasi (Kokkinakis) who has had a bunch of injuries and has bounced back.”
Kyrgios's scratching is another hammer blow to the Melbourne Park major, which was already ravaged by superstar withdrawals and retirements. Women's titleholder Ash Barty, seven-times champion Serena Williams, her sister Venus, dual winner Naomi Osaka and retired legend Roger Federer are all missing in 2023.
Australia's highest-ranked woman Ajla Tomljanovic also pulled out on Saturday with a knee injury. But Kyrgios's absence is undoubtedly the biggest setback yet for organisers.
Love or loathe the 27-year-old, tennis's most polarising figure is compelling viewing. After inspired runs to last year's Wimbledon final and US Open quarter-finals, Kyrgios had high hopes of breaking his grand slam duck in Melbourne.
"I'm just exhausted from everything. One of the most important tournaments of my career. Hasn't been easy at all," he said of the decision to pull out.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.