Injury cloud over Nick Kyrgios’ Open tilt

1:25 AM ET

Nick Kyrgios faces a race against time to hit peak form and fitness for his Australian Open tilt after pulling out of the inaugural United Cup teams event due to injury.

World No. 22 Kyrgios was scheduled to spearhead the Australian team, starting against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in Sydney on Thursday night, but withdrew from the mixed-gender tournament ahead of Wednesday’s team press conference.

Kyrgios was also due to play Rafael Nadal in the most eagerly anticipated matchup of the event when Australia meets Spain next week.

The 2022 Wimbledon finalist has reportedly been dealing with an ankle injury suffered in an exhibition tournament in Dubai last week and has prioritised his Melbourne Park campaign.

The United Cup, along with the second Adelaide International event in January, was to form part of Kyrgios’ local preparation for a big crack at his home grand slam after his stellar 2022 season.

Kyrgios’ Australian teammates only learned 10 minutes before their press conference that he would no longer be joining them.

Team captain Samantha Stosur said she hadn’t spoken to Kyrgios about his decision and wouldn’t be drawn on whether he would be fit for the Open.

“I’m not going to speak for Nick’s summer, we’ve got to leave that for him,” Stosur told reporters.

World No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had a verbal bust-up with Kyrgios earlier this year, wasn’t surprised at his rival’s withdrawal.

“I don’t see it as a surprise. I hope he enjoys his holidays,” Tsitsipas said in Perth.

With Kyrgios out, world No.24 Alex de Minaur will move into the No.1 men’s position for Team Australia and play against Norrie and Nadal, with world No.107 Jason Kubler – the fifth-ranked Aussie male – promoted to the No.2 spot.

De Minaur was unwilling to focus on Kyrgios, instead wanting to talk about the rest of the Australian team.

“Ultimately we’re just going to get ready,” de Minaur told reporters.

“We’ve got a great team and we’re all going to be out there doing our best.

“So ultimately the only thing that changes is match-ups and that’s about it.”

Kyrgios was due to represent Australia for the first time since the now-defunct ATP Cup in 2020, having sat out the Davis Cup for the past three years, as well as the Tokyo Olympics.

“Like ‘Demon’ said, we just move forward now. We’re all happy to be here and keen to get out there,” Stosur said.

“Now that (Kyrgios news) is out there and we move forward with the placings of the team and do our best on the day.

“As far as the men’s side of this team goes, we’re in very capable hands still.

“So I’m not concerned that our chances have just diminished greatly or anything like that. We’re out here to do everything we can possible to try and win this competition.”

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