Nick Kyrgios explains withdrawal, Lleyton Hewitt fires up in press conference
Nick Kyrgios has explained his decision to withdraw from Australia’s United Cup campaign after copping criticism for the 11th-hour bombshell.
Kyrgios pulled out of the inaugural edition of the mixed-teams tournament within 24 hours of it getting underway, citing an ankle injury.
The Canberran caused a stir on social media and drew another jibe from long-time foe Stefanos Tsitsipas, who said it was “not a surprise” and “I hope he enjoys his holidays”.
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Kyrgios gave an insight into his physical battle ahead of the Australian Open in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Thursday night.
“Anyone who plays professionally knows, for sure,” Kyrgios said when asked if people understood what it took to prepare for a grand slam.
“Anyone outside of that wouldn’t have a great understanding.
“Going deep or not, winning a match at a grand slam level is not an easy task.
“People underestimate the pressure and the nerves with being a part of one of the biggest tournaments of the year.
“Throw in an injury and knowing you didn’t give yourself the best chance only adds to the mountain of pressure you face.
“So feeling good physically is important.”
Lleyton Hewitt, Australia’s United Cup captain, clipped Kyrgios after Alex de Minaur opened the team’s campaign with a straight-sets loss to Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie.
Watch Team Australia take on the world in the United Cup, live and exclusive on 9Now and Stan Sport.
“I was in the same boat as all the other players,” said Hewitt, who was stranded overseas due to a flight delay when Kyrgios bailed.
“I didn’t know any more.
“It was pretty tough for everyone.
“It was more probably the lack of communication and these guys not knowing.
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“I’m so proud of this bloke (de Minaur) and the effort and how he makes playing for his country a priority. It’s something I’m very proud of him.
“I think for the whole team it was pretty tough not knowing what was going on the last 24 hours.”
Australia had a dismal opening night at the United Cup, with Zoe Hives losing 6-4, 6-3 to Katie Swan after de Minaur fell to Norrie 6-3, 6-3.
Ajla Tomljanović and Jason Kubler will attempt to drag the team back on Friday night, before Sam Stosur’s expected appearance in the mixed doubles.
“Probably just responding,” Hewitt said when asked how communication could be improved with Kyrgios.
“That’s the normal way of doing it.”
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