Leading tennis reporter Brett Phillips has suggested Nick Kyrgios might never play again after his withdrawal from the Australian Open. Kyrgios ended weeks of speculation on Saturday when he confirmed that he won't be playing the Melbourne Park grand slam in January.
The 28-year-old said his body still isn't right after knee and wrist injuries ruined his 2023 season. It means Kyrgios will only play one match at ATP level this year, and doubts are lingering about whether he will ever get back.
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Discussing the situation on Monday, Phillips fuelled the theory that Kyrgios might simply walk away from tennis and never play again. Phillips pointed to Kyrgios' burgeoning interests outside of tennis, including his move into the world of commentary and a new Only Fans page for subscriber content.
“The injuries have caught up with him. I actually think he’s going to struggle to get back, to be totally honest,” Phillips said on SEN radio. “There’s a plethora of stuff he can do away from tennis. He’s dabbled in commentary recently and made a good fist of that, we know he’s got a good IQ and he’s got his foundation, he’ll be in demand.
“I mean he’s 28. Nick Kyrgios never spoke about being a tennis player who was going to play deep into his 30s and have a long career of tennis, he spoke about being possibly retired two years ago. I think these injuries, the knee, wrist, they’re two of the worst you can get in tennis.
“(Juan Martin) Del Potro couldn’t come back from a wrist injury, Roger Federer couldn’t get back from a couple of knee surgeries… the physical demands of the game, if you look what has happened since Nick has been largely inactive, the breed of talent that’s come through, they’re at a whole other level.”
Will Nick Kyrgios walk away from professional tennis?
Phillips said Kyrgios might struggle to match it with a young brigade of players coming through, headlined by Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. “Kyrgios could come back - and he’s got his serve which could make him ultra competitive - but to go with these guys off the ground, your lateral movement, physicality, that’s never been Nick’s strong suit, to be totally honest,” he said.
“So I’m fascinated. I think the longer he’s out it’s going to be harder for him to come back and whether he’s got the total desire to come back, he’s got so much going on that I don’t know if it’s absolute top billing for him to be a professional tennis player first and foremost, we’ve questioned that for a number of years. We’re just used to him not playing, which is the reality of the situation.”
Speaking earlier this year, Kyrgios said there was "no way" he'd still be playing professionally in five years' time. But the fact he mentioned on Saturday how close he got to winning Wimbledon in 2022 suggests the fire still burns.
“Obviously heartbreaking," he said of missing the Australian Open. "I’ve had so many amazing memories there and I just want to really get back to playing at the top of my game and doing it right and I need a little more time. I was so close to winning a grand slam, I want to make sure that my body is going to have the time it needs to come back, so please bear with me."
Kyrgios had the best year of his career in 2022, making the Wimbledon final and quarters at the US Open. He also won the Australian Open doubles title, but hasn't been able to get back on the court in 2023.
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