Nick Kyrgios has edged closer to being ruled out of the 2024 Australian Open after his name was missing from the entry list at the cut-off date six weeks out from the event.
The 28-year-old has been sidelined with knee and wrist issues since withdrawing from this year’s Melbourne grand slam in January.
He has repeatedly flagged the likelihood that he would miss the tournament again, saying in November that “the stars would need to align” for him to get back in time.
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In an interview last week the 28-year-old gave no indication he would be ready to return to the court any time soon.
And there were no surprises when the entry list was published this week, with Kyrgios nowhere to be seen among a slew of injury-hit players using protected rankings to enter the grand slam.
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Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic, Denis Shapovalov, Soonwoo Koon, Jiri Vesely, Milos Raonic and Reilly Opelka have all used the tool to lock themselves into the tournament.
That group of seven has pushed Dominic Thiem, who has had a torrid three years since reaching the 2020 Australian Open final and winning the US Open that year, into the first spot on the alternates list.
The injury-hit veteran will need just one withdrawal among the 104 entrants to secure his place in the main draw.
Nick Kyrgios is on holiday in the US ahead of the Australian summer of tennis. Credit: Getty
Other recognisable names on the alternates list include Aussie and 2023 men’s doubles champion Jason Kubler (seventh), former world No.9 and 2015 men’s doubles champion Fabio Fognini (11th), former world No.7 David Goffin (14th), former world No.8 Diego Schwartzman (No.17), Aussie veteran James Duckworth (19th) and combustible Frenchman Benoit Paire (20th).
Meanwhile, Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley committed to bringing Kyrgios to the Australian Open “in some form or another”.
He would now require a wildcard to make an unlikely appearance in the tournament but is more likely to show up on the broadcast.
Kyrgios, who remains overseas on holiday, dabbled in commentary at November’s ATP Finals.
“The update is day-by-day with him,” Tiley said this week, prior to the entry list being published.
“He’ll be best to assess that … we’re going to have Nick here in some form or another in January.
“Hopefully it is to play because he’s a crowd-pleaser. We love watching Nick and love having him around.”
Australian Open organisers received a major boost last week when Nadal announced he would make his eagerly awaited comeback at the Brisbane International.
Rafael Nadal leaves the Australian Open court after his most recent match on tour, 11 months ago. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
The Spanish legend will return at the warm-up event in Queensland before what appears set to be his final tour of the country as a player.
The 37-year-old hasn’t played a competitive match since getting knocked out in the second round of this year’s Australian Open when struggling with an injured hip.
“It’s fun talking to Rafa, that’s why this job is great … what a beautiful person,” Tiley said.
“He was most concerned that he wasn’t going to be ready to play; he didn’t want to commit to playing and let his fans down by then having to pull out.
“He’s healthy, he’s practising well, he’s playing like Rafa plays and going all out.
“It took a while to make the announcement simply because he wanted to make sure he was going to be able to come and play.”
Two-time champion Naomi Osaka is also set for her comeback from maternity leave this summer.
Former Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka will make her comeback at the Brisbane International. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
The 26-year-old is returning at the Brisbane International having not played on tour since the Tokyo Olympics in September 2021.
Osaka spent time with Kyrgios at a Los Angeles Lakers NBA game where tennis was the topic of conversation.
“Serve tips lol,” Osaka wrote on social media later, with Kyrgios adding: “She didn’t need much help.”
The Aussie later offered a message of support to the new mother.
“The best part of (our) journey is realising that we can all learn something from someone,” he said.
“Will be following and supporting your comeback Naomi!! Happy to help any time. The whole Kyrgios team is behind you.”
– with AAP