Nick Kyrgios withdraws from Australian Open

Nick Kyrgios
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MELBOURNE, Australia — A “devastated” Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the Australian Open on Monday — the day before he was scheduled to play his first-round singles match — because of an injured left knee that needs arthroscopic surgery.

Kyrgios, a 27-year-old from Australia, was the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year in singles and teamed with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis to claim the men’s doubles championship at the 2022 Australian Open.

Kyrgios was considered the host country’s strongest chance to win a title at Melbourne Park this year; no man from Australia has won the singles trophy there since 1976.

“Just bad timing. But that’s life,” said a downcast Kyrgios, who occasionally lowered his head or covered his face with a hand during a news conference at Melbourne Park alongside his physical therapist, Will Maher. “Injury is a part of the sport.”

Kyrgios announced his withdrawal on Day 1 of action at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, where Rafael Nadal advanced and Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu also won to set up a blockbuster second-round match.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

“I’m just exhausted from everything. Obviously pretty brutal,” Kyrgios said of the decision to sit out. “One of the most important tournaments of my career. Hasn’t been easy at all.”

He was seeded 19th in Melbourne and was supposed to face Roman Safiullin in the first round on Tuesday.

“Barely had a good night’s sleep the last four, five nights. It’s just been throbbing. … Every time I land on serve or push off my serve, you can see on the side of my knee there’s like a little lump. That lump will eventually just get bigger and bigger,” Kyrgios said. “There’s pressure on my knee (that) obviously hinders my movement. Yeah, the only real way to get rid of it is to open up and then just get rid of it.”

He joins a long list of prominent players who are not participating in this Australian Open, from the now-retired Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Ash Barty to the pregnant Naomi Osaka, to the injured Carlos Alcaraz, Venus Williams and Marin Cilic.

Kyrgios is as mercurial a character as there is in tennis, known for alternating sometimes-brilliant and sometimes-uninterested play, as well as mixing in the occasional outlandish outburst during matches. He has spoken frankly about dealing with mental health issues.

Kyrgios also has been facing a charge of assault in a pending court case in his hometown of Canberra.

He is nothing if not attention-grabbing on and off a tennis court, certainly, which is why he is one of the athletes featured in the new Netflix docuseries “Break Point” that made its debut last week.

The Australian Open was supposed to mark Kyrgios’ official season debut after he withdrew from tuneup play earlier in January. He used an exhibition match against Djokovic on Friday in front of a packed house at Rod Laver Arena to test the knee, but that did not go well.

Maher said that an MRI exam after Kyrgios felt discomfort in his knee revealed a cyst and a small tear in the lateral meniscus ligament. The trainer said the problem is “not career-threatening,” and that Kyrgios should be able to return to competition by the hard-court tournament at Indian Wells, California, in March.

“Look, I’m not doubting I will be back to my full strength and playing the tennis I was playing prior to this event. Yeah, I’m devastated obviously. It’s like my home tournament. I’ve had some great memories here — obviously last year, winning the title in doubles and playing the best tennis of my life, probably. Then going into this event as one of the favorites, it’s brutal,” Kyrgios said.

“All I can do now,” he added, “is just look forward, do what I need to do and come back.”

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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