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A devastated Nick Kyrgios is already determined to recover from an early knee injury in time to improve his brilliant 2022 season after his “brutal” 11th-hour exit from the Australian Open on the eve of his home grand slam.

Kyrgios confirmed the news with a “mixture of emotions” at a surprise media conference with his physiotherapist on Monday afternoon, a day before he was due to play his first round match against Roman Safiuulin.

The world number 21 pulled out of Australia’s United Cup campaign late last month before he also pulled out of the second Adelaide International warm-up event, leaving him under-prepared.

An MRI on Monday revealed a cyst caused by a torn left meniscus, which his physio Will Maher said is not career-threatening but will keep him from playing his best and could affect the rest of 2023. if he tries to make it through the rigors of a grand slam campaign.

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

“It always goes back to the last grand slam I played, the US Open…I was too hard on myself after that loss in the quarterfinals, thinking I could win from there. I had the Aus Open on my mind from that day as soon as I stepped off the court [Karen] Khachanov. I’ve always wanted to do everything right and train properly and tick every box and just be ready for the Aus Open.”

Maher said Kyrgios “didn’t do great” from Friday’s exhibition match against Novak Djokovic and had been feeling unwell for the past week.

“We used the match, the charity event against Novak, as a gauge to see if he could compete at that highest level,” Maher said. “He didn’t stretch well and he was still trying to give himself every opportunity in the following days to train further. But with each passing session, it was clear that he was hurting more and more.

“I think we made a smart decision to call him back because at this stage he wants to feel comfortable mentally that he can go seven matches, he can go the distance and he should be able to potentially play seven three-hour matches. It was not enough for him to just go out on the court.

“The situation is now that we wanted to prevent him from further injury or making that 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 before returning to Indian Wells in March.

“Obviously it’s just a bad time, but that’s life, but injury is part of sport,” Kyrgios said. “I think I can be inspired by someone like Thanasi [Kokkinakis] who suffered a series of injuries and returned.

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

It means Australia will be without the leading men’s and women’s singles players after Ajla Tomljanovic also pulled out of the weekend with injury.


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