MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An “extremely disappointed” Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the Australian Open on Monday — the day before he was scheduled to play his first-round singles match — because of an injured knee that needs arthroscopic surgery.
Kyrgios, a 27-year-old from Australia, was the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year in singles and teamed with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis for the men’s doubles championship at the 2022 Australian Open.
Kyrgios was considered the host country’s strongest chance to win a title at Melbourne Park this year; no man from Australia has won the singles trophy there since 1976.
He announced his withdrawal on Day 1 of action at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, appearing at a news conference at Melbourne Park alongside his physical therapist, Will Maher.
“I’m just exhausted from everything. Obviously pretty brutal,” Kyrgios said of the decision to sit out. “One of the most important tournaments of my career. Hasn’t been easy at all.”
He was seeded 19th in Melbourne and was supposed to face Roman Safiullin in the first round on Tuesday.
Kyrgios is as mercurial a character as there is in tennis, known for alternating sometimes-brilliant and sometimes-uninterested play, as well as mixing in the occasional outlandish outburst during matches. He has spoken frankly about dealing with mental health issues.
Kyrgios also has been facing a charge of assault in a pending court case in his hometown of Canberra.
He is nothing if not attention-grabbing on and off a tennis court, certainly, which is why he is one of the athletes featured in the new Netflix docuseries “Break Point” that made its debut last week.
The Australian Open was supposed to mark Kyrgios’ official season debut after he withdrew from tuneup play earlier in January. He used an exhibition match against Djokovic on Friday in front of a packed house at Rod Laver Arena to test the knee, but that did not go well.
Maher said that an MRI exam after Kyrgios felt discomfort in his knee revealed a cyst and a small tear in the lateral meniscus ligament. The trainer said the problem is “not career-threatening,” and that Kyrgios should be able to return to competition by the hard-court tournament at Indian Wells, California, in March.
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