Nick Kyrgios caught in awkward scenario with ex-girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic
Nick Kyrgios has welcomed the prospect of teaming up with ex-girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic at the inaugural United Cup, despite what will undoubtedly be an awkward situation for both players. The new event is a mixed gender teams tournament and will feature some of the biggest names in world tennis.
In what is effectively a revival of the old Hopman Cup, which was controversially axed in 2019, teams will feature male and female players across singles and mixed doubles ties. With Kyrgios and Tomljanovic spearheading the Aussie charge, it means the former flames are likely to play doubles together for the first time since they were an item.
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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 on Sunday. "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."
Kyrgios and Tomljanovic both enjoyed the best year of their careers in 2022. Tomljanovic made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, while Kyrgios made the final at the All England Club and the quarters in New York. Australia's respective No.1s will be joined by Alex de Minaur, Jason Kubler, Maddison Inglis, Zoe Hives and doubles aces John Peers, along with Australia's playing co-captain Samantha Stosur.
"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."
Nick Kyrgios and Rafa Nadal in United Cup blockbuster
Kyrgios will take on 22-time grand slam champion Rafa Nadal in a genuine blockbuster when Australia plays Spain. The showdown looms as one of the highlights of the 11-day United Cup, which also includes group matches in Brisbane and Perth before the finals are staged in Sydney.
"To be honest, I haven't really played well in Sydney but I'm hoping to change that narrative at the start of the year," Kyrgios said. "Just playing in Australia is special. The tour is a long grind and it's rarely in Australia so I'm definitely not going to take it for granted."
Having sat out Davis Cup for the past three years, as well as the Tokyo Olympics, Kyrgios is representing Australia for the first time since the now-defunct ATP Cup in 2020. Speaking last week, de Minaur welcomed Kyrgios' return to the national team after leading Australia to the final of the Davis Cup.
"For me, there's no greater honour than to represent your country and that's been my belief always," he said. "It's another chance, another opportunity to do everything I can to hopefully get a win for Australia. So I'll make sure that I'm ready to go and ready to give it my all."
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