Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the inaugural United Cup teams event just a day before his scheduled opening match, seeking to overcome injury ahead of the Australian Open.
World No.22 Kyrgios was expected to spearhead the Australian team, facing Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in Sydney on Thursday night, but withdrew from the mixed-gender tournament ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled press conference.
Kyrgios was also due to play Rafael Nadal in the most eagerly anticipated match-up 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 being fit and firing for his Australian Open campaign.
The United Cup, along with the second Adelaide International event in January, was due to form part of Kyrgios’ local preparation for a tilt at his home grand slam after his stellar 2022 season.
“Team Australia update: Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the United Cup due to injury,” United Cup organisers tweeted.
Kyrgios’ Australian teammates only learned 10 minutes before the press conference that he would no longer be joining them.
Team captain Sam 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.
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.
“We’ve all just heard,” de Minaur told reporters.
“Ultimately we’re just going to get ready.
“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.
“He was here. We literally just found out 10 minutes ago … so obviously news to all of us,” Stosur said.
“But like ‘Demon’ said, we just move forward now. We’re all happy to be here and keen to get out there.
“Now that’s 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.”