Nick Kyrgios is in “no doubt” for the Australian Open despite withdrawing from a second straight tournament because of an ankle injury, his team says.
Australia’s No.1 player also pulled out on the eve of the country-based United Cup last week because of the setback he sustained in an exhibition event in December.
Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of another lead-in tournament before the Australian Open.Credit:AP
Kooyong Classic tournament director Peter Johnston has approached Kyrgios about playing a match there next week, while nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has also made a practice match offer.
Kyrgios’ manager, Daniel Horsfall, told The Age the decision to not play in Adelaide was made in consultation with his physiotherapist Will Maher, but they plan to travel from Canberra to Melbourne on Thursday next week.
The world No.22 is making “good progress” and in “no doubt at all” for the Australian Open, but they decided he needed a bit more time.
“We are very excited and working every day to make sure we’re ready for the Australian Open,” Horsfall said.
“A lot of people were upset after he pulled out of the United Cup, but I hope they now realise the injury is genuine. I wish more people would ask questions before putting in their two cents.”
World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz will play his first match of the year at Kooyong, alongside the likes of Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Andy Murray, but finding an appropriate opponent for Kyrgios is his camp’s priority.
Lleyton Hewitt, Australia’s United Cup captain, criticised Kyrgios for a lack of communication around his withdrawal, which the latter described as being thrown “under the bus”.
But United Cup tournament director Stephen Farrow vigorously defended Kyrgios, with organisers told as early as Christmas Eve that he was struggling with the ankle problem.
He was hoping to start his season in Adelaide, so the lingering issue is a blow to his grand slam preparation and the South Australian event.
“The event is clearly disappointed in this decision, as would be the fans who support him, but injury happens and health is always the priority,” Adelaide International tournament director Alistair MacDonald said.
“The Adelaide International wishes Nick Kyrgios the best of luck and a quick recovery, understanding the importance of the Australian Open preparation.”
Kyrgios is coming off a career-best season, including reaching the Wimbledon final, where it took 21-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic to stop him, and US Open quarter-finals.
He also won last year’s Australian Open doubles title with close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis, and they have committed to defending their championship.
Kokkinakis is playing in Adelaide this week and is due to face Italian Jannik Sinner on Thursday night.
Djokovic is a red-hot favourite to win a 10th grand slam title at Melbourne Park and a record-equalling 22nd overall, but Kyrgios is one of the few players given a chance of upsetting the Serbian superstar.
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