Australian Open 2023: Nick Kyrgios out, injury, ‘Netflix curse’, reaction, Tomljanovic, Badosa

The Australian Open has suffered yet another monumental blow on day one of the tournament after Nick Kyrgios revealed he had suffered a knee injury.

Having used his exhibition match against Novak Djokovic as a test, Kyrgios didn’t pull up well and was forced to pull out of the tournament — a vicious blow for Australia, who has lost both its top ranked players in Kyrgios and Ajla Tomljanovic.

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Kyrgios is a major drawcard, so much so Netflix used the Aussie to kick off its Break Point documentary series.

Tipped to provide tennis with a similar boost Drive to Survive gave F1 with its look behind the scenes of the sport, three of the nine players involved in the first five episodes of the documentary — Kyrgios, Tomljanovic and Spain’s Paula Badosa — have had to pull out of the tournament.

It’s already being dubbed “the Netflix curse”.

For the record, Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkari, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Taylor Fritz, Matteo Berretini and Casper Ruud are the other players involved in the first five episodes.

But there has also been several big name stars pulling out of the season’s opening major in the lead up to the event.

Two-time champion Naomi Osaka revealed her pregnancy and that she wouldn’t be playing in Melbourne, Venus Williams suffered an angle and knee injury playing in Auckland earlier this month.

Men’s world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz also pulled out of the Open because of a leg injury and World No. 18 Marin Cilic suffered a knee injury.

Meanwhile, defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal is seemingly out of form and the reigning women’s champion, Ash Barty, is retired and revealed her pregnancy last week.

Australian broadcaster Channel 9 agreed to a deal work a record $425m to lock in the rights over another five years from 2025-2029, an increase of $125m than the current deal which runs until 2024.

While fans have flocked to the first day of the tournament and the organisers are expecting to break the record attendance at the tournament which was 800,000 set in 2020.

Even if that record is broken, the broadcast numbers are bound to take a hit.

Last year Kyrgios or Barty matches were worth 100s of thousands of extra viewers, while in 2023, Alex de Minaur is Australia’s only seeded player left in the draw.

Ash Barty’s Australian Open women’s final match was the highest rated AO women’s final of all-time, reaching 4.2m people at its peak.

Kyrgios was considered one of the favourites for the tournament and tennis reporters were quick to react.

The Herald Sun’s Matt Turner wrote: “After the Djokovic stuff last year, #AusOpen organisers had a dream run when Barty, Nadal & Kyrgios/Kokkinakis won.

“To have #Kyrgios, Tomljanovic, Alcaraz & Osaka withdraw, on the back of Federer, Barty, Serena & Halep not being here, is close to the opposite of that.”

Sport broadcaster Daniel Garb called it: “A TV rights holders nightmare.”

Seven sports reporter Mel McLaughlin posted: “Nick Kyrgios OUT of the #AustralianOpen Massive massive loss for the tournament.”

New York Times tennis reporter Christopher Clarey posted: “Love or loathe Kyrgios, any tournament is more interesting with him in the mix. Big loss to the Australian Open in particular.”

Racquet Magazine editor Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “I hadn’t rated Kyrgios’ #AusOpen chances especially highly given his lack of preparation (and I thought his draw was pretty tough in the middle), but that’s still a big blow for him and for the tennis promoters who have chosen to centre him so frequently, especially in Australia.”

ABC’s Akash Fotedar pondered: “I wonder what impact this will have on crowds for the tournament. No doubt Kyrgios is one of, if not the biggest drawcard. #AustralianOpen”.

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