A “devastated” Nick Kyrgios has been forced to withdraw from the Australian Open on the eve of his first match.
The Aussie No.19 tournament seed was set to take on Roman Safiullin on Tuesday, but now will not play due to a knee injury.
He has been replaced in the men’s draw by 30-year-old American player Denis Kudla.
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“I’m devastated obviously, it’s my home slam,” Kyrgios told media on Monday.
“Obviously I’m just exhausted from everything. Pretty brutal… (this is) one of the most important tournaments of my career.”
“It hasn’t been easy at all.”
Kyrgios, 27, was rated a $15 chance with some bookmakers to win the tournament, having enjoyed his best season on tour in 2022.
He was forced to withdraw from the United Cup last month due to injury, but participated in an exhibition match against Novak Djokovic last Friday which sold out in Melbourne.
Kyrgios’ physiotherapist explained they had used that exhibition match to test out a knee issue, and on Monday it was decided the superstar was not fit enough to attempt to win seven straight matches required to win the Open.
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“We have made the sensible decision to withdraw him,” physio Will Maher said.
“At this stage he wants to be mentally comfortable that he can go seven matches and go the distance. Getting on the court simply wasn’t enough for him.
“The situation now we want to prevent him from having further injury or making that injury worse. So now he’ll go back to Canberra at the end of the week.”
Maher explained there is a cyst on Kyrgios’ knee which will need to be drained and treated.
They expect Kyrgios to be fit to compete at Indian Wells in March, then hopefully to Wimbledon where he made the final last year.
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