MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A “devastated” Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the Australian Open on Monday — the day earlier than he was scheduled to play his first-round singles match — due to an injured left knee that wants arthroscopic surgical procedure.

Kyrgios, a 27-year-old from Australia, was the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon final yr in singles and teamed with good good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis to say the boys’s doubles championship on the 2022 Australian Open.

Kyrgios was thought of the host nation’s strongest likelihood to win a title at Melbourne Park this yr; no man from Australia has received the singles trophy there since 1976.

“Simply dangerous timing. However that’s life,” mentioned a downcast Kyrgios, who sometimes lowered his head or coated his face with a hand throughout a information convention at Melbourne Park alongside his bodily therapist, Will Maher. “Damage is part of the game.”

Kyrgios introduced his withdrawal on Day 1 of motion on the yr’s first Grand Slam match.

“I’m simply exhausted from all the pieces. Clearly fairly brutal,” Kyrgios mentioned of the choice to sit down out. “Probably the most necessary tournaments of my profession. Hasn’t been simple in any respect.”

He was seeded nineteenth in Melbourne and was speculated to face Roman Safiullin within the first spherical on Tuesday.

“Barely had a superb night time’s sleep the final 4, 5 nights. It’s simply been throbbing. … Each time I land on serve or push off my serve, you’ll be able to see on the facet of my knee there’s like a bit lump. That lump will finally simply get larger and larger,” Kyrgios mentioned. “There’s stress on my knee (that) clearly hinders my motion. Yeah, the one actual approach to do away with it’s to open up after which simply do away with it.”

He’s as mercurial a personality as there’s in tennis, identified for alternating sometimes-brilliant and sometimes-uninterested play, in addition to mixing within the occasional outlandish outburst throughout matches. He has spoken frankly about coping with psychological well being points.

Kyrgios additionally has been dealing with a cost of assault in a pending court docket case in his hometown of Canberra.

He’s nothing if not attention-grabbing on and off a tennis court docket, definitely, which is why he is among the athletes featured within the new Netflix docuseries “Break Level” that made its debut final week.

The Australian Open was speculated to mark Kyrgios’ official season debut after he withdrew from tuneup play earlier in January. He used an exhibition match towards Djokovic on Friday in entrance of a packed home at Rod Laver Enviornment to check the knee, however that didn’t go effectively.

Maher mentioned that an MRI examination after Kyrgios felt discomfort in his knee revealed a cyst and a small tear within the lateral meniscus ligament. The coach mentioned the issue is “not career-threatening,” and that Kyrgios ought to be capable of return to competitors by the hard-court match at Indian Wells, California, in March.

“Look, I’m not doubting I shall be again to my full energy and enjoying the tennis I used to be enjoying previous to this occasion. Yeah, I’m devastated clearly. It’s like my dwelling match. I’ve had some nice reminiscences right here — clearly final yr, successful the title in doubles and enjoying the very best tennis of my life, in all probability. Then going into this occasion as one of many favorites, it’s brutal,” Kyrgios mentioned.

“All I can do now,” he added, “is simply look ahead, do what I have to do and are available again.”

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