Nick Kyrgios’ withdrawal from the 2023 Australian Open “took the air out of the building”, but John McEnroe hopes the Australian “takes something positive out of something that’s obviously totally negative”.
Already rocked by several high-profile withdrawals, including world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz, the season-opening Grand Slam suffered another setback on Monday as local hope Kyrgios pulled out due to a left-knee injury.
The Australian was forced to miss the United Cup at the start of the year, but tested his knee during an exhibition match against Novak Djokovic on Friday and afterwards his team decided not to take any risks.
His physiotherapist Will Maher explained: “[He had a] routine MRI just to make sure everything was okay [but it found] there’s a parameniscal cyst growing in the lateral meniscus which is the result of a small tear in his left lateral meniscus.”
Following a run to the Wimbledon final and US Open quarter-final last year, great things were expected of Kyrgios at this year’s Australian Open.
Former world No 1 McEnroe lamented the setback.
“Total and absolute bummer,” he told Eurosport. “Nick’s been making progress that I wasn’t sure he even thought [he could make] or I did… to get himself to compete consistently at a high level and give the type of effort you need to go after and possibly win a Grand Slam.
“I think we saw that because he was able to give this more consistent effort last year, when he was right in the mix.
“He got to the final of Wimbledon, he had a real shot to go all the way at the US Open, lost in the quarters, but looked great most of the tournament, and I’m sure that he was super pumped up because he’s playing in his home country.”
Maher and the rest of Kyrgios’ team believe world No 21 will return for the Indian Wells Open in March and McEnroe is hopeful the 27-year-old will come back stronger.
He added: “He had come off winning the Aussie doubles last year, so the crowd obviously love seeing him play.
“Everywhere that you turned, anywhere in the world, and you heard that news it was like, ‘Oh not again’, like something else happened.
“He’s had issues, because I’ve been around him, some with the body and then the knee in particular, so all we can hope is that he’ll go after this and try to make sure that he’s in the type of condition he needs to be, do the rehab work, and hope that he takes something positive out of something that’s obviously totally negative.
“But it definitely took the air out of the building for sure.”
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