Nick Kyrgios has stunned the tennis world by withdrawing from the Australian Open less than 24 hours before he was due to play his first round match. The 27-year-old has cited a knee injury that responded poorly after his exhibition match against Novak Djokovic last Friday as the reason behind the decision.
The tennis world was roundly saddened by the announcement, with fans left in shock after a strong build-up surrounding Kyrgios' chances at his home grand slam. A meniscus tear in his knee was the culprit, leaving last year's Wimbledon runner-up shattered.
Kyrgios faced a press conference soon after the announcement was made, declaring he was 'extremely disappointed by the turn in events after a strong 2022 campaign. Joined by his physiotherapist, Kyrgios said it had only been in recent weeks that the injury was discovered.
Previously, he had withdrawn from the United Cup on short notice, prompting a brief war of words with Australian co-captain Lleyton Hewitt. He was also a late scratching from the Adelaide International.
"It doesn't feel good. There's constant throbbing. Lump on the side of my knee, hinders my movement. Have had trouble sleeping the last couple of days," Kyrgios said.
"Bad timing. Injuries are part of the sport. I’m not doubting that I’ll be back to my full strength. I'm devastated, obviously, it's my home Slam and going into this event as one of the favourites, it’s brutal.
“This is my home tournament and obviously winning the tournament in doubles and playing the best tennis of my life probably. All I can do is my best to come back.”
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 16, 2023
His absence leaves Australia's top men's and women's contenders out of the Melbourne Park grand slam, with Alja Tomljanovic having announced her own withdrawal over the weekend.
Fans on social media were devastated by the news. The injury also means Kyrgios will be unable to defend his Australian Open doubles crown, won alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis in 2022.
No Alcaraz. No Kyrgios. No bueno.
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) January 16, 2023
Super sad my man @NickKyrgios just had to pull out of the #AustralianOpen due to injury 😢 Had such an amazing season last year & absolutely could have won this tourney. Wishing you a speedy recovery Nick. Game 🎾 isn’t the same without you pic.twitter.com/nzTZ2FXMpT
— Dan Leach (@DanLeach971) January 16, 2023
Breaking news from @abcsport - Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the Australian Open due to a knee injury.
His physiotherapist says a routine MRI showed a cyst as a result of a small tear in his lateral meniscus.
— Sam Wilkinson (@WilkoSam) January 16, 2023
— Russell Bennett (@rgbennett) January 16, 2023
Nick Kyrgios pulling out of the #AusOpen is a bummer. Would have been a contender if fully fit plus he's always a box-office draw at Grand Slams.
— Rohith Nair (@RohithNair) January 16, 2023
Knee problem forces Nick Kyrgios out of Australian Open
Kyrgios' physiotherapist, Will Maher, joined the World No.21 to shed more light on why the Aussie superstar had to wait until the last minute to withdraw. He said Kyrgios had tried everything to get ready, with the exhibition against Djokovic a last chance to test his recovery.
“We used the charity event against Novak to see if he could compete at the highest level,” Maher said. “He didn’t pull up great. It’s been pretty interrupted and difficult lead in.
"In the last week, Nick has experienced discomfort in his knee. There’s a small tear in his lateral meniscus. It was worth persevering to see if he can get back on court. To Nick’s credit he did everything to get back on court.”
The 19th seed'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.
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. His opponent, Russia's Roman Safiullan, will progress to the second round as a result.
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