Nick Kyrgios has announced his shock withdrawal from the United Cup just 24 hours before Australia's opening tie against Great Britain. Kyrgios was supposed to spearhead Australia's campaign in the new mixed-gender teams event, which will see the world's best male and female players converge on Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
However Kyrgios revealed on Wednesday afternoon that he will no longer be playing, citing a need for more recovery time ahead of the Australian Open starting on January 16. The World No.22 said he was dealing with a niggling injury after training on Tuesday afternoon.
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It means fans will be robbed of a blockbuster showdown between Kyrgios and Rafa Nadal in Australia's second tie against Spain. The United Cup was set to be Kyrgios' first appearance for the national team since 2019.
He hasn't played Davis Cup in three years and skipped the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The Aussie star recently played an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia before taking part in the World Tennis League in Dubai, where he reportedly injured his ankle.
"Nick suffered an ankle injury while playing in Dubai and has been advised by his team that he needs to take precautionary measures for two weeks leading into the AO," his team told The Herald.
Kyrgios' teammates told media they had only learned 10 minutes before a press conference on Wednesday that he would not be joining them. It means Alex de Minaur will move into the No.1 men's position for Team Australia, with Jason Kubler promoted to the No.2 spot.
“We have got amazing players on this team,” Aussie captain Sam Stosur said on Wednesday. “Alex is one of the best players in the world, Koobs (Kubler) has had an incredible year this year as well qualifying for a couple of slams so as far as the men’s team goes, we are in very capable hands still so I am not concerned that our chances are just diminished greatly or anything like that.
"We are out here to do everything we can possible to try and win this competition. It is not going to be easy, there are many great players here but we are ready to go and we are going to give it everything we’ve got.”
De Minaur didn't want to talk about Kyrgios' withdrawal, biting back at a reporter's question. He said: “You know I think it would be great if we just talk about this great team, we are all here, we are all happy to be here, we are about to play an exciting new event, something new for all of us, the United Cup.
“Let’s talk about that, it is exciting. Everyone here is excited to play so we are just going to have fun, it is a great team around us and we are just happy to be here.”
Tennis fans react to news about Nick Kyrgios
The 27-year-old Kyrgios had previously expressed his excitement about the new event, which is effectively a revival of the old Hopman Cup - controversially axed in 2019. Australia are set to play pool matches against Great Britain and Spain at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney on December 29-30 and January 2-3. Each tie will feature best-of-five-rubbers with the mixed doubles to be played last.
"I don't play so much mixed doubles anymore but what I love about mixed doubles is, it's for the fans. That's the most important thing," Kyrgios said earlier this month. "Seeing some of the best females in the world playing with the best males, it definitely provides some really good entertainment, how the male kind of lets the female do her thing on the court and not get in the way. That's fun to watch."
Australia's team comprises of De Minaur, Kubler, Ajla Tomljanovic, Maddison Inglis, Zoe Hives and John Peers, with Lleyton Hewitt and Stosur co-captains.
"It's just a great event to have, an event where females and males come together as one to represent their nation," Kyrgios said. "That's extremely important. And for the fans. To have all the best athletes from around the world together, I think it's a very special event.
"We don't have very many events during the year where both males and females are in the same spot playing the one event together competing for prize money, a top title and representing your country all in one."
Fans had a mixed reaction to the news of Kyrgios' withdrawal on Wednesday.
Not surprising with this guy.
— Russell Sprout (@KeelanSprout) December 28, 2022
Yep because he played in a competition right b4 Christmas not surprising he pulled out I swear he’s not a good organiser of his schedule 🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️
Prob pulls out of AO as well at this rate
— luke condick (@luke_pies) December 28, 2022
So Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the United Cup injured. Not exactly ideal preparation for the Australian Open
— Talking Tennis (@TalkingTennisTT) December 28, 2022
Bombshell for the tennis rights holders of this event
— Daniel O'Brien (@danthomasobrien) December 28, 2022
United cup without Kyrgios. Why don’t we make it a habit? No Kyrgios on the tour! Hahahahhaa I would loooove it!
— Mbi (@mbitennis) December 28, 2022
This is a bummer for Rafa, I think he was counting on United cup matches to get him ready for AO and even if he doesn’t like Kyrgios it was going to be much better practice for him than whoever Jason Kubler is
— TennisAlt (@tennisalt) December 28, 2022
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