Not only has Nick Kyrgios' withdrawal from the Australian Open hit Channel 9 in the ratings department, it's also come with a brutal rejection from the Aussie tennis player. Kyrgios announced on the first day of the Australian Open that he was forced to withdraw with a knee injury that requires surgery.
With Ash Barty retired and fellow tennis titans Roger Federer and Serena Williams also calling it quits at the end of last year, Channel 9 were hoping to strike ratings gold through Kyrgios. But the Aussie's withdrawal has sparked a huge decline in TV viewers throughout the first week of the Melbourne Park grand slam.
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And if that wasn't bad enough, it emerged on Friday that Kyrgios had also rejected an offer from Channel 9 to join their commentary team in a guest stint. The 27-year-old reportedly knocked back the proposal, choosing to spend some much-needed time with his family in Melbourne instead.
The viewership on the opening night of the Australian Open was way down from what it was 12 months ago when Barty played her first-round match. Barty's run to the title, as well as Kyrgios and Kokkinakis' extraordinary doubles triumph, sparked record TV ratings in 2022.
But the grand slam is lacking some serious star power in 2023, and the ratings have suffered as a result. Channel 9 also opted to prioritise Aussie matches featuring Alex de Minaur, Alexei Popyrin and Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round, shunting returning superstar Novak Djokovic to their online platform.
It sparked a wave of angry comments from fans on social media who wanted to watch Djokovic's first match back in Australia since the deportation scandal 12 months ago. The broadcasters eventually switched Djokovic to 9Gem, but only after the match was well underway.
Sad detail about Nick Kyrgios' mother comes to light
Kyrgios' decision to spend time with his family in Melbourne comes after his parents drove down from Canberra to watch him play, only to find out he'd withdrawn. Kyrgios' mother Nill revealed in 2022 that she hasn't watched him play live for a number of years, due to the adverse effects it has on her health.
After working with a psychologist in recent months she made the brave decision to end her hiatus and watch him in action at Melbourne Park. But Kyrgios' knee injury robbed her of the chance.
“I had to still come. My psychologist says I have to watch him. Otherwise I’ll never be able to sit there and watch him ever again. You have to face your fears. That’s what they say," she told the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.
Nill said last year about watching her son play: “I can’t expose myself to that anxiety. I go into a really strange panic. Over the years, I’ve been through a lot.
“It actually got to a stage where I sought help. I was seeing a psychologist for six months. I was not in a good place. My anxiety level watching Nick was so high.”
Nill stayed at home in Australia when her husband and daughter travelled to the UK to watch him play at Wimbledon last July. She couldn't even bring herself to watch on TV when Kyrgios faced off with Novak Djokovic in the final at the All England Club.
“I actually didn’t watch the game,” she told Channel 9 the day after. “I haven’t watched any of his games.
“I had a very good sleep … I actually watched him go on court. I love that, you know, watching him walking through Wimbledon, just that atmosphere. I love watching him walk on to the court and just see the reaction of the spectators. I watched it until I think when they started warming up and I said, ‘Good luck’ and I went to bed.”
Kyrgios is said to be laying low with family in Melbourne this week before returning home to Canberra. He is set to go under the knife on Monday for an arthroscopy.
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