Nick Kyrgios has set the record straight about his relationship with compatriot Alex de Minaur, amid reports of a 'feud' between the two Aussie tennis stars. De Minaur's Australian Open tournament got underway with a straight sets win against Yu Hsiou Hsu on Tuesday night, one day after Kyrgios dropped a bombshell by withdrawing from the grand slam with a knee injury.
De Minaur last week dodged questions from reporters about an apparent rift with Kyrgios after expressing frustration that his fellow Aussie had pulled out of recent team events for Australia. Kyrgios opted to compete in an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia at the end of last year, rather than represent Australia in the Davis Cup.
'RIDICULOUS': Murray stuns Berrettini in wild Australian Open scenes
The 27-year-old also pulled out of the United Cup in Sydney at the last minute, citing issues with the knee complaint that ultimately ended his Australian Open hopes. De Minaur has admitted he's been left frustrated after trying to persuade Kyrgios to represent Australia in the past, but to no avail.
While de Minaur was keen to avoid questions about his relationship with Kyrgios before the tournament got underway, the latter did open up in interviews with Wide World of Sports and The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday. Putting the ugly speculation about a 'feud' with de Minaur to bed, Kyrgios insisted that the two Aussie stars have been friends for many years.
"Me and Demon (de Minaur) have a very special relationship," Kyrgios said. "I still remember him being the orange boy for the Australian Davis Cup team (back in 2015) and I was the one who said 'I'll hit with him' when the tie was finished.
"So me and Demon have a great relationship." Kyrgios revealed that his compatriot was quick to come over and offer his condolences on Monday when news spread that he had to withdraw from the Australian Open.
"I saw him yesterday and he came up to me and said, "I'm sorry for everything and I hope your body goes well'," Kyrgios revealed. "I respect all these players, so it's not really a big deal when I read that me and Demon are feuding or anything like that. He's one of my close mates on tour and he always will be."
Nick Kyrgios quizzed over Australian Open withdrawal
Following Kyrgios' sad withdrawal on Monday, Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge questioned whether he had planned his schedule correctly for this year's grand slam. The doubles great suggested rest and recuperation would have been better for the 27-year-old than competing in the Saudi exhibition event.
In the wake of criticism over the nature of his late withdrawal from Melbourne Park, fellow Aussie great Jelena Dokic jumped to the defence of Kyrgios on Tuesday. The Channel Nine commentator said Kyrgios made the right decision and risked hurting himself even more if he pushed through the pain.
"I don't think he had any choice actually, because I don't think he could out there and play on the knee," Dokic told Channel Nine. "I don't think it was about protecting it, I think it was about the fact that he really wasn't able to get out there and play.
"Definitely wasn't in good enough shape to do it. A wise decision."
Kyrgios and his physio revealed that the Aussie star had a cyst growing on his left meniscus which will require arthroscopy surgery. He took to social media to explain how hard it was to make the call.
"Trust me, my heart is broken," Kyrgios said on Twitter on Monday night. "But I'm on the table Monday to get fixed, I'll be back!"
Kyrgios revealed that his knee complaint lefty him agonising over whether or not he should play in the Australian Open, and that the decision to pull out represented a relief of sorts. The 27-year-old will undergo knee surgery and is targeting a return at Indian Wells in March.
"Obviously I was in two minds for the last week. It was so hard waking up not knowing if I was going to play, if I wasn't going to play. I was in pain," Kyrgios said. But now I feel like I've got a clear path moving forward, and it's life honestly, I've been through a lot more struggle than this. It's sad but at the same time I'm happy."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.