A “devastated” Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the Australian Open on Monday, the day before his first-round singles match, due to an injured left knee that requires arthroscopic surgery.
Kyrgios, a 27-year-old Australian, finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic in singles at Wimbledon last year and won the men’s doubles title at the 2022 Australian Open with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Kyrgios was regarded as Australia’s best chance to win a title at Melbourne Park this year; no Australian has won the singles trophy there since 1976.
“It was just bad timing. But that’s life,” said Kyrgios, who lowered his head or covered his face with a hand during a news conference at Melbourne Park with his physical therapist, Will Maher. “Injuries are a part of the game.”
Kyrgios announced his withdrawal from the year’s first Grand Slam tournament on Day 1.
“I’m just tired of everything. “It was obviously brutal,” Kyrgios said of his decision to sit out. “This was one of the most important tournaments in my career. It hasn’t been easy.”
In Melbourne, he was seeded 19th and was scheduled to face Roman Safiullin in the first round on Tuesday.
“I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in four or five nights. It’s only been throbbing. Every time I land on serve or push off my serve, you can see a small lump on the side of my knee. That lump will eventually grow larger and larger “Kyrgios explained. “My movement is obviously hampered by pressure on my knee. Yeah, the only real way to get rid of it is to open it up and then throw it away.”
He joins a long list of notable absences from the Australian Open, including the now-retired Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Ash Barty, as well as the pregnant Naomi Osaka and the injured Carlos Alcaraz, Venus Williams, and Marin Cilic.
Kyrgios is a mercurial character in tennis, known for alternating between brilliant and uninteresting play, as well as the occasional outlandish outburst during matches. He has been open about his struggles with mental illness.
Kyrgios is also facing an assault charge in a pending court case in his hometown of Canberra.
He is nothing if not captivating on and off the tennis court, which is why he is one of the athletes featured in the new Netflix docuseries “Break Point,” which premiered last week.
Kyrgios was supposed to make his official season debut at the Australian Open after withdrawing from tuneup play earlier in January. He put the knee to the test against Djokovic on Friday in front of a packed house at Rod Laver Arena, but it didn’t go well.
According to Maher, an MRI exam performed after Kyrgios complained of knee pain revealed a cyst and a small tear in the lateral meniscus ligament. The problem, according to the trainer, is “not career-threatening,” and Kyrgios should be able to compete again by the hard-court tournament in Indian Wells, California, in March.
“Look, I’m not doubting I will be back to my full strength and playing the tennis I was playing prior to this event. Obviously, I’m devastated. It’s similar to my home tournament. I have some great memories here, including winning the doubles title last year and probably playing the best tennis of my life. Then, coming into this event as a favourite, it’s brutal,” Kyrgios explained.
“All I can do now is look forward, do what I need to do, and come back,” he added.