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Nick Kyrgios' Australian Open hopes take yet another hit as entry list announced

The Aussie star is racing the clock to be fit for the first grand slam of 2024 at Melbourne Park.

Rafa Nadal and Nick Kyrgios.
Rafa Nadal is playing in Brisbane, but Nick Kyrgios isn't on the official entry list. Image: Getty

Nick Kyrgios was not on the official entry list for the Brisbane International or Australian Open when they were announced on Wednesday, sparking fresh doubts that he'll be ready for the grand slam. Organisers for both events unveiled star-studded entry lists on Wednesday, but Kyrgios was nowhere to be seen.

Organisers had been optimistic that the mercurial Australian talent would make his return at the Brisbane International, but it now appears extremely unlikely that he'll be in action at Melbourne Park come January. Kyrgios has only played one match at ATP level in 2023 amid issues with his knee and wrist.

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He previously said the stars would need to align for him to be a chance at playing the Australian Open. Despite his absence from the official entry list, Brisbane tournament director Cam Pearson left the door open for Kyrgios to be granted a late wildcard if he wants to play.

“Nick is a day-by-day proposition at the moment. I think he said that himself,” Pearson said on Wednesday. “Hopefully he'll share his January plans very soon.

"We’ve got a couple of wildcards left and selectors have a big decision. There are a number of Aussies that are vying for those two wildcards. If Nick is fit, hell certainly be one of them. He’s coming back from some serious surgery and has to do what’s right for his preparation.”

The fact he hasn't used his protected ranking to gain automatic entry into the Australian Open is also a huge concern. He can still be granted a late wildcard, but it appears as though he's leaning towards not playing.

Australian Open boss provides update on Nick Kyrgios

Discussing Kyrgios' situation earlier this week, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley said Kyrgios would be at the grand slam "in some form". The Aussie star recently made his commentary debut during the ATP Finals and could fill a similar role at Melbourne Park if he isn't fit to play.

"The update is day-by-day with him," Tiley said on Monday. "He'll be best to assess that ... we're going to have Nick here in some form or another in January. Hopefully it is to play because he's a crowd-pleaser. We love watching Nick and love having him around."

In a positive for organisers, the main draw in Brisbane features a host of top-50 players and grand slam winners. Rafa Nadal has been locked in for his return after a nearly 12-month absence, while Naomi Osaka will also be back in action following the birth of her daughter. Andy Murray is also playing in Brisbane, although World No.2 Carlos Alcaraz is another notable absentee.

“We are thrilled so many of the world’s best players want to come to Brisbane,” Pearson said. “This is one of the strongest fields the tournament has seen in both the men’s and women’s fields. To have nine grand slam champions, 12 WTA/ATP top 20 players, along with so many Australian favourites, is great news for the tournament and our fans.”

Nick Kyrgios, pictured here after winning the Brisbane International title in 2017.
Nick Kyrgios won the Brisbane International in 2017. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal plays down expectations for return in Brisbane

However Nadal moved to play down expectations on Tuesday, saying: "I have been afraid to announce things because in the end it's a year without competing and it's a hip operation. But what worries me the most is not the hip, it's everything else. I think I'm ready, and I trust and hope that things go well and that it gives me the opportunity to enjoy myself on the court."

Nadal said he knows he might struggle after such a long time on the sideline. "I expect from myself not to expect anything. This is the truth," he said. "To have the ability not to demand of myself what I have demanded of myself throughout my career.

"I believe I'm in a different moment, in a different situation and in unexplored terrain. I have internalised what I have had throughout my life, which is to demand of myself the maximum. Right now what I really hope is to be able not to do that, not to demand the maximum, to accept that things are going to be very difficult at the beginning and to give myself the necessary time and forgive myself if things go wrong at the beginning, which is a very big possibility."

with AAP

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