A devastated Nick Kyrgios has already vowed to recover from his premature knee injury in time to add to his glittering 2022 season after withdrawing from the Australian Open in the 11th hour on the eve of his home Grand Slam .
Kyrgios confirmed the news with a “mixed emotions” in an unexpected media conference with his physio on Monday afternoon, a day before he was due to play his first-round match against Roman Safiullin.
The world No. 21 withdrew from Australia’s United Cup season late last month, before also withdrawing from the second Adelaide International warm-up tournament, leaving him with little preparation.
It was revealed on Monday that an MRI detected a cyst caused by a tear in his left meniscus, which his physical therapist, Will Maher, said was not career-threatening but would not allow him to do his best and risked losing the rest of his To affect the 2023 season, he should try to see it through the rigors of a Grand Slam campaign.
“Obviously I’m devastated,” Kyrgios said. “It’s my home tournament, I have some great memories here – obviously winning the doubles title last year and probably playing the best tennis of my life. Then going into this event as one of the favorites is brutal.
“It always goes back to the last Grand Slam I played, the US Open… I was extremely hard on myself after that quarterfinal loss and thought I could win it from there. I had the Aus Open in mind from that day as soon as I left the court against them [Karen] Khachanov. I’ve always wanted to just do everything right and train right and tick all the boxes and just be ready for the Aus Open.”
Maher said Kyrgios “didn’t do great” from Friday’s exhibition match against Novak Djokovic and has had complaints for the past week.
“We used the match, the charity event against Novak, as a benchmark to see if he could compete at this highest level,” Maher said. “He didn’t do well and still tried to give himself every chance to retrain in the following days. But it was clear with every passing session that he was getting sore and sore.
“I think we made the sensible decision to pull him out because at that point he wants to feel mentally secure that he can play seven games, he can go the distance and needs to be able to potentially play seven three-hour games . Getting on the pitch just wasn’t enough for him.
“The situation now is that we wanted to prevent him from getting any more injuries or making that injury worse.”
The 27-year-old will return to Canberra later this week for arthroscopic surgery to remove the cyst and ‘clean’ his meniscus before recovering in February, with a planned return in time for Indian Wells in March.
“Of course this turnaround is just bad timing, but that’s life – but injuries are part of sport,” said Kyrgios. “I think I can draw inspiration from someone like Thanasi [Kokkinakis] who had a few injuries and rebounded.
“I have no doubt that I will return to my full strength and play the tennis I played before this event. Now all I can do is look forward, do what I have to do and come back.”
That means Australia will be without their best individual players after Ajla Tomljanović was also injured at the weekend.