Australia’s United Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has lambasted Nick Kyrgios over the polarizing star’s withdrawal from the tournament in the 11th hour.
Hewitt spoke to reporters after Alex de Minaur opened Australia’s campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Britain’s Cameron Norrie in Sydney on Thursday night – a game Kyrgios was due to play until he withdraws due to an ankle injury.
Hewitt was stranded overseas due to a flight delay when Kyrgios dropped the bombshell, but the Australian tennis great surged when he had the chance to rip the world No.22.
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“I was in the same boat as all the other players yesterday,” Hewitt said.
“I didn’t know anymore.
“It was tough enough for everyone.
“It was more likely the lack of communication and those guys didn’t know it.
“I’m so proud of that guy (de Minaur) and the effort and the way he makes playing for his country a priority. It’s something I’m very proud of him (dont).
“I think for the whole team it was quite difficult not knowing what had happened in the last 24 hours.”
Watch Team Australia take on the world in the United Cup, live and exclusively on 9Now and Stan Sport.
Australia had a dismal opening night at the United Cup, with Zoe Hives losing 6-4, 6-3 to Katie Swan after de Minaur’s loss to Norrie.
Ajla Tomljanović and Jason Kubler will try to bring the team back on Friday night, ahead of Sam Stosur’s expected mixed doubles appearance.
“Probably just to answer,” Hewitt said when asked how communication could be improved with Kyrgios.
“It’s the normal way to do it.”
Hewitt’s frustration with Kyrgios’ perceived lack of interest in the Australian side was easily spotted as he spoke to the media.
“If it was just to worry Nick, that’s one thing,” Hewitt said.
“When it comes to the team and the other people and preparing them to play the best they can before the Australian Open, that’s probably the hardest thing.”
Tennis Australia chief defends Nick Kyrgios withdrawal
Kyrgios had opened up about his injury battle in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age earlier on Thursday evening.
“Anyone who plays professionally knows that for sure,” Kyrgios said when asked if people understand what it takes to prepare for a grand slam.
“Anyone outside of that wouldn’t have a great understanding.
“Go deep or not, winning a game at Grand Slam level is not an easy task.
“People underestimate the pressure and the nerves that come with playing one of the biggest tournaments of the year.
“Letting go of an injury and knowing that you haven’t given yourself the best chance only adds to the mountain of pressure that you face.
“So feeling good physically is important.”
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