The dramas surrounding Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios are showing no signs of slowing down after Hewitt refused to answer questions about Kyrgios during Australia's tie with Spain at the United Cup. Hewitt lashed out at Kyrgios early in the tournament, bemoaning his lack of communication when he withdrew from the Australian team.
Kyrgios hasn't represented Australia at a team event since 2019 - and that trend continued last week when he withdrew from the United Cup just 24 hours before his first match. It was later revealed that Kyrgios is dealing with a niggling injury and is trying to get himself right for the Australian Open.
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But that didn't stop Hewitt from criticising the manner in which Kyrgios had announced his withdrawal just 10 minutes before the Aussie team were scheduled to front the media in a press conference. "For the whole team, it was pretty tough not knowing what was going on the last 24 hours," Hewitt said. "It was more probably the lack of communication.
"If it was just worrying Nick, that's one thing, but when it revolves around the team and other people and I guess their preparation ... they want to be playing as well as they can not just in this event but also leading into the Australian Open. That's probably the hardest thing."
Kyrgios later accused Hewitt of throwing him 'under the bus' and asked if Aussie co-captain Sam Stosur would criticise Ajla Tomljanovic when she withdrew. After Alex de Minaur's remarkable win over Rafa Nadal in Sydney, Hewitt was hit with more questions about Kyrgios.
However he refused to add any more fuel to the fire. “I’m not going to go into it tonight," he said. “This is Alex’s night."
Jason Kubler takes advantage of Nick Kyrgios' absence
Jason Kubler has emerged as Australia's unlikely hero in the wake of Kyrgios' withdrawal, stepping into the Aussie No.1's shoes perfectly. Kubler won both of his singles matches in Australia's ties in pool play, including an incredible victory over Dan Evans in which he came back from 0-5 in the second set.
The 29-year-old followed it up on Tuesday night when he beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 4-6 6-3 win, paving the way for Australia's eventual 3-2 win over Spain. Kubler then revealed how he'd thanked Kyrgios for giving him the opportunity.
"I actually messaged him after my match against Evo (Evans)," Kubler said. "I messaged him, 'Thank you so much for the opportunity'. Basically (said), 'I hope your body gets better, and we can have a hit before the Australian Open.
"That's the way I see it. He could have played, and he could have done unbelievably well, like I know we all think he can. Fortunately, he gave me the opportunity to play, and I have sort of taken it with both hands and run with it.
"Me personally, as much as I would have loved to see that Rafa-Kyrgios match or the Kyrgios-Norrie match, it's just one of those things where luckily he handed me the opportunity and I'm just going for it."
Kubler was buzzing about his experience in the Aussie team, saying: "I have so many good things to say about Rusty (Hewitt), about Demon (Alex de Minaur), any of the Australian guys. When I hang around them, when I hang around Nick, Thanasi (Kokkinakis), Thommo (Jordan Thompson), (Christopher) O'Connell, I feel like I get lifted up.
"When I go out there and it's a big situation, when I hang with them, it feels like I should be in those situations because that's what they do. I'm so happy that Rusty was our captain. I'm so happy that I got another opportunity to play in front of him and play in front of a court that he loves."
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