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‘Devastated’ Nick Kyrgios pulls out of Australian Open with knee injury | Nick Kyrgios

A devastated Nick Kyrgios had already planned to recover from an untimely knee injury in time to improve on his stellar 2022 season after his “brutal” 11th-hour withdrawal from the Australian Open ahead of his home Grand Slam.

Kyrgios confirmed the news with a “mixture of emotions” at an unexpected press conference alongside his physiotherapist on Monday afternoon, a day before he was due to play his first-round match against Roman Safiulin.

The world number 21 withdrew from Australia’s United Cup campaign at the end of last month before also withdrawing from the second warm-up at the Adelaide International, leaving him with little preparation.

It was revealed Monday that an MRI revealed a cyst caused by a torn left meniscus, which his doctor, Will Maher, said was not career-threatening but would not allow him to play at his best and risk affecting the rest of his 2023 season if try to put him through the rigors of a Grand Slam campaign.

“Obviously I’m devastated,” Kyrgios said. “This is my home tournament, I have some good memories here – obviously I won the doubles title last year and played probably the best tennis of my life.” Then to go into this event as one of the favorites, it’s brutal.

“It always goes back to the last Grand Slam I played, the US Open…I was extremely hard on myself after that loss in the quarterfinals, thinking I could win it from then on. I had the Aus Open on my mind from that day forward as soon as I walked off the court against [Karen] Khachanov. I always wanted to do everything right, train right and tick every box, and be ready for the Aus Open.”

Maher said Kyrgios “didn’t do great” in Friday’s exhibition match against Novak Djokovic and felt discomfort last week.

“We used the match, the charity event against Novak, as a measure to see if he can compete at the highest level,” Maher said. “He didn’t do well, and he still tried to give himself every chance in the coming days to have the next training session. But with each session it was clear that he was getting more and more.

“I think we made a sensible decision to pull him because at this stage he wants to feel comfortable mentally that he can play seven matches, that he can go the distance and that he can do potentially seven three-hour matches.” Entering the field was simply not enough for him.

“The situation is now that we wanted to prevent him from getting any further injuries or making the injury worse.

The 27-year-old will return to Canberra later this week for arthroscopic surgery to remove a cyst and “clean out” his meniscus before using February to recover, with a return to Indian Wells expected in March.

“Obviously this coming is just bad timing, but that’s life – but injuries are part of sport,” Kyrgios said. “I guess I can draw inspiration from someone like Thanasi.” [Kokkinakis] who had a bunch of injuries and recovered.

“I have no doubt that I will be back at full strength and play the tennis that I played before this event.” All I can do now is just look forward, do what needs to be done and come back.”

It means Australia will be without their top-ranked men’s and women’s singles after Ajla Tomljanovic also pulled out injured at the weekend.

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