Nick off: Kyrgios set to miss Australian Open but superstar legend set for comeback


While he appears resigned to injured Nick Kyrgios being absent, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley is more upbeat about Rafael Nadal playing in January.

Tiley admitted he had been stalking the Spanish great’s social media for signs Nadal would return to Melbourne Park.

The 37-year-old has posted videos of himself hitting strongly and moving well after being sidelined since hip surgery in June.

Winning the Australian Open title for the second time in 2022, Nadal crashed out in the second round this year when he suffered the hip injury chasing down a ball.

“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day, because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” Tiley said on Thursday.

“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing … I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”

But the news wasn’t as positive for former world No.13 Kyrgios, who only managed one ATP Tour match in 2023 due to serious knee and wrist issues.

The 28-year-old was a commentator at last week’s ATP Finals in Italy where he said “the stars would need to align” for him to play at the Open.

He revealed he still needed to wear a splint on his serving arm for another month which cast serious doubt on his ability to return in January.

“We have spoken to Nick and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give himself the best chance to play in January … Nick’s position will be determined closer to the event,” Tiley said.

“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great, but we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to take care of his health because he’s not just got January, he’s got the entire year.”

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Kyrgios will have to rely on a wildcard or use his protected ranking to be in the main draw without having to feature in qualifying.

Given his one and only match in 2023 was in Stuttgart in June, he can use his protected ranking of 21 for nine months, until March 2024.

“We have wildcard exchanges with the French and Wimbledon, so there’s an opportunity to really help an Australian player not just have one tournament to go into but several, so we’ll weigh that all up to make a decision – we’ve got wildcards to do that,” Tiley said when asked if a fit Kyrgios would be given a wildcard.

“I think whatever gets him the best chance to progress during the year.”

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