MELBOURNE, Australia — Nick Kyrgios was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open on Monday — just 24 hours ahead of his scheduled first-round match against Roman Safiullin — because of an injury to his left knee that will require arthroscopic surgery.
Kyrgios, Australia’s highest-ranked men’s tennis player, called an impromptu news conference during Day 1 at Melbourne Park to announce that a routine MRI scan had revealed a small tear and a cyst in his lateral meniscus.
“I’m devastated. It’s brutal,” said Kyrgios, who was seeded 19th. “This is my home tournament, and obviously winning the tournament in doubles [last year] and playing the best tennis of my life. All I can do is my best to come back.”
Kyrgios, 27, had faced nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in a charity match Friday evening at Melbourne Park. His physiotherapist, Will Maher, said Kyrgios “didn’t pull up great” from the exhibition and was in no state to take part in a Grand Slam event.
“We used the charity event against Novak to see if he could compete at the highest level,” Maher said. “It’s been [a] pretty interrupted and difficult lead-in. In the last week, Nick has experienced discomfort in his knee. There’s a small tear in his lateral meniscus. It was worth persevering to see if he can get back on court. To Nick’s credit, he did everything to get back on court.”
Kyrgios was coming off a career-best year in which he won the Australian Open doubles title alongside compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis before reaching the Wimbledon final, which Kyrgios ultimately lost to Djokovic.
Kyrgios is expected to return to Canberra for surgery in the next couple of weeks, and Maher said he should be able to return to competition by the hard-court tournament at Indian Wells, California, in March.
“Obviously, a mixture of emotions, [but] that’s life. It’s part of the sport,” Kyrgios said. “I’m not doubting that I’ll be back to my full strength.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.