Nick Kyrgios will stay in Melbourne until Friday to support fellow Australians at the opening grand slam of the year, rejecting suggestions of a feud with Alex de Minaur.
In an interview with the Herald and The Age the morning after his withdrawal from the Australian Open, Kyrgios said he had no regrets about the decision.
The 27-year-old said he felt relief after finally making the call and will head to Canberra at the end of the week to see a specialist before knee surgery on Monday.
While in Melbourne, he will support Australians in the early rounds of the tournament – including de Minaur, who was last week gagged from talking about Kyrgios midway through a press conference.
De Minaur was short with reporters in Sydney three weeks ago when asked about Kyrgios’ late scratching from the United Cup. Kyrgios said there was no feud.
“Me and Demon have a very special relationship,” he said. “I still remember him being the orange boy in the Davis Cup team and I was the one who would hit with him when the tie was finished.
Nick Kyrgios carrying Alex de Minaur after the win over Great Britain at the ATP Cup in 2020.Credit:Getty
“Me and Demon have a great relationship. He came up to me yesterday and said, ‘I’m sorry for everything and I hope your body goes well’. I respect all these players, so it’s not a big deal when I read about me and Demon are feuding. He’s one of my close mates on tour and he always will be.”
There may be no feud with de Minaur, but a growing list of former players continue to take shots at Kyrgios.
Top of that list is Lleyton Hewitt. Kyrgios said Australia’s Davis Cup captain threw him under a bus with comments at the United Cup.
Pat Cash also said Tennis Australia bent over backwards to help Kyrgios prepare for the Open by allowing him to play an exhibition match against Novak Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena.
Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios after their exhibition match on Friday.Credit:Getty
“Everyone has their two cents,” Kyrgios said. “Everyone will kind of speculate or assume how I’m feeling … Maybe just next time appreciate a bit more understanding that there could be something going on.
“I feel like it’s been like that for the last five or six years of my career. There have always been a lot of past players or Australians giving their two cents about how I go about things. All I take away from it is that three days ago I was able to fill a stadium with Novak and raise a quarter-of-a-million dollars for charity.
“Playing through pain, I gave myself the best chance. I gave myself a shot to play but I wasn’t able to do it. The rest is all outside noise. I still think I’ve gone about it the right way. It’s still a successful AO for me in the sense I did a lot of things outside the tennis court which was very important for me. I still feel like I’m part of it.”
Nick Kyrgios the day after his withdrawal from the Australian Open.Credit:Chris Hopkins
Kyrgios still thought about playing at the Australian Open despite the injury but his mindset has changed over the years.
Before the tournament, he believed he could beat the best in the world and lift the trophy on the final Sunday in January. When that belief diminished, he decided not to play.
“Every time we [Kyrgios’ team] come to a grand slam now, we feel like we can win it,” he said.
“The last two grand slams I made a final and a quarter-final. I don’t ever want to come into a tournament and say, ‘Let’s see how it goes, let’s just win one round’. I want to come here and feel like I can legitimately compete for three hours and seven matches to win a title. Long term, it was definitely the right decision.
“My life is a roller coaster day in, day out. I made a decision. In a way, it’s a relief. I was in two minds for the last week. It was so hard waking up, [wondering] whether I was going to play, whether I was not going to play. But now I feel I have a clear path moving forward. That’s life, honestly. I’ve been through a lot more struggle than this. It’s sad, but at the same time, I’m happy.”
Kyrgios said his recovery would be straightforward. He has given himself six weeks to get fit for the Indian Wells tournament on March 6. The injury has not altered his plans to play at Roland Garros after a six-year absence.
“I’ll definitely have ‘French Open’ circled on my calendar,” he said. “I think I’m as motivated as ever. I was ready for the AO … I’m just going to use this as fuel.”
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