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Nick Kyrgios has explained his United Cup late withdrawal, saying he physically needs to give himself ‘the best chance’ at the Australian Open.

The United Cup is a new joint ATP and WTA team event and Kyrgios was the men’s captain of the Australian Team alongside women’s captain Sam Stosur.

However, it was revealed at the pre-tournament press conference by his team-mates that they’d only found out ten minutes earlier of Kyrgios withdrawal.

Kyrgios has now given the reasons for his decision, saying he hasn’t fully recovered from an ankle injury, and he has had to prioritise his own health ahead of the impending Grand Slam.

“Anyone who plays professionally knows for sure,” Kyrgios told The Sydney Morning Herald about the preparation needed for a major.

“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.”

Although withdrawing only 24 hours before the tournament start, Kyrgios says he kept the necessary people updated about the situation leading up the event and did attend training to test out his ankle.

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“I was in contact with Craig (Tiley from Tennis Australia) and Stephen (Farrow, United Cup Tournament Director) regularly about the situation,” Kyrgios said.

“We all worked together to try and get the best outcome. Not everyone is going to understand or see it from my side and that is okay. What my team and I can control is how we go about our business and make sure who needs to know, knows - and we leave it at that.

“It is obviously very difficult. It’s not ideal to have an injury at any time in the season, but that is the risk I run every time I step on court. I was working every day very closely with my team about my progression and speaking with William, my physio, after every session. I tried to be ready for it, but at some point you need to listen to the advice you’re receiving and do what is best.”

United Cup tournament director Stephen Farrow also jumped to the defence of Kyrgios saying he had every intention of playing.

“He left it to the last possible moment to confirm whether he was able to compete or not,” Farrow said.

“These things happen in tennis, especially when you’re two weeks out from a Grand Slam. This is a big event in its own right now.

“There’s $15m [US dollars] prizemoney and 500 ranking points. But as a player, you have to keep one eye on the Grand Slams. The fact he was here practising, he had every intention to play. Sadly, it’s not to be.”

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