Australia’s Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the Australian Open a day before his first round match against Roman Safiullin.
The 19th seed has revealed that an MRI scan showed a small tear in his lateral meniscus that will require surgery, sidelining him until Indian Wells.
A dejected Kyrgios and his physio Will Maher called an immediate press conference at Melbourne Park to announce the news.
“Extremely disappointed,” Kyrgios said.
“I know you guys will all be wondering what's going on, so my physio Will here has been with me throughout my career and he's been monitoring me pretty closely throughout the last week and he's going to give you more of the details on what's going on.
“Honestly, I'm just exhausted from everything, and obviously pretty brutal. One of the most important tournaments of my career. It hasn't been easy at all.”
Maher then took the reigns in the press conference to describe the extent of the injury and the timing of its occurrence.
“It has been a pretty interrupted and difficult lead-in into the Australian Open,” Maher said.
“Unfortunately, during the last week or so Nick has experienced some discomfort in his knee, routine MRI just to make sure everything was okay.
“There's a parameniscal cyst growing in his left meniscus, which is the result of a small tear in his lateral meniscus.
“It's not a significant injury in the sense that it's going to be career-threatening or anything like that.
“Even at that stage, it was still worth persevering to see if we could do anything to get him back on court.”
Maher explained that Kyrgios had even undergone a procedure in order to drain the cyst as he was desperate to participate in his home Slam, and that Friday’s charity match with Novak Djokovic was a test to see how it was fairing.
“To Nick's credit, he did try everything, to the point even last week he was having a procedure called a fenestration and drainage where they use a syringe to try and drain the cyst,” he said.
“Any amount of injections that he could try to get into his knee without causing long-term damage.
“We came to Melbourne with the hope there might be some pressure relieved from that procedure and he'd have some relief and be able to get up to a level he was comfortable to compete.
“We used the match, the charity event against Novak, as a gauge to see if he could compete at that highest level.
“He didn't pull up great, and he still tried to give himself every chance in the following days to have subsequent training. But it was clear that with each passing session that he was getting sorer and sorer.
He continued by alluding to the fact that the Wimbledon finalist will have surgery in Canberra to repair the injury, with the aim to be back on court by Indian Wells in March.
“So now he'll go back to Canberra at the end of the week, he'll have an arthroscopic procedure to clean up his lateral meniscus and remove the paralabral cyst,” Maher said.
“From there it's a relatively straightforward recovery through February for him, and very realistic to be back on the court for Indian Wells.
“It won't interrupt his year tremendously, despite the fact it's a great disappointment to withdraw from the Australian Open, home slam.”
Kyrgios then added that while he harbours an enormous amount of frustration that he is unable to play in Melbourne, especially after his quarterfinal loss at the US Open, he takes inspiration from the way Thanasi Kokkinakis has rebounded from more serious ailments throughout his career.
“Obviously mixture of emotions, it always goes back to the last Grand Slam I played was the US Open and I was extremely hard on myself after that loss in the quarterfinals.
“Thinking that I could win it from there on, and obviously just had Aus Open was on the back of my mind from that day forth as soon as I got off the court against Khachanov.
“I always wanted to just do everything right and train right and tick every box, and just be ready for the Aus Open.
”This coming around is just bad timing. But that's life. Injury is a part of the sport. I guess I can draw some inspiration from someone like Thanasi who has had a bunch of injuries and has bounced back.”