Nick Kyrgios’ left knee required most of the strapping tape in the building to patch it together long enough to get past fellow n Matthew Ebden in the second round of the Brisbane International.
At times, the third seed looked like he would barely make it through the contest, at one point telling a trainer during a medical time out that straightening his limb was becoming a “nightmare”.
Later, Kyrgios sought to downplay any lingering effects of the injury, saying it wouldn’t be a concern heading into the n Open, nor his looming quarter-final on Pat Rafter Arena with Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Such was the improvement later in his 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory that Kyrgios felt confident enough to suit up for his doubles match later on Wednesday with partner and close friend Matt Reid.
That looked to be a remote possibility early against Ebden, the West n who took his ranking from deep in the 600s to 76 in the world within the past 12 months.
Kyrgios struggled to move freely as he tried to loosen up an injury suffered a few days earlier during a hit with his Davis Cup captain and mentor Lleyton Hewitt. But he said there was no point where he considered abandoning his first match of 2018.
“No. I’d been feeling pretty good coming into the tournament, doing some pretty good work. Then a couple of days out I was playing some points with Lleyton and I felt my knee a little bit. I’ve been nursing it for a day or two and wasn’t sure what it was,” Kyrgios said.
“I had a bit of fluid in there but it doesn’t really hurt me, only when I’m straightening my leg. I knew it was going to be tough today; first match of the year, just happy to get through. I’m sure I’ll be fine.
“The longer the match went, the looser I got and the better I played.”
Asked if he would be healthy for Melbourne, which starts on January 15, he replied: “Of course.”
Kyrgios has dealt with a number of injuries in his career, with knee, hip and elbow all causing him headaches at various points. He has a regular physio for the Grand Slam and other key events but said he may now consider a travelling specialist to help him throughout the entire tour.
“I have a physio that comes to Masters events and Grand Slams. But he’s got his own thing going on, he’s got a couple of kids so I’d never be that person to drag him away from his family,” Kyrgios said.
“But yeah, it’s probably an option to look for another guy to help me on the road at other events as well. It’s an option I’d look at.”
With Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal already injury casualties at the Brisbane event, organisers could be forgiven for having a moment when Kyrgios, too, looked like he would be taking an early mark.
But he said the knee wasn’t the only reason he took some time to get going on Wednesday. There was some ring rust evident, while Ebden represents a tough opponent that kept plenty of balls in play against an opponent struggling to get around the court to full effect.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match. He’s won 10 or his last 12, so he’s feeling pretty good. It took me a while to get used to playing a match again. I’ve been training here for so long, training on that court, it kind of felt like the match hadn’t started,” Kyrgios said.
Dolgopolov was in menacing form earlier on Wednesday, demolishing Argentine Horacio Zeballos 6-1, 6-2. Like Kyrgios, he enjoys the conditions in Brisbane and any slow start for the n could be swiftly punished.