Nick Kyrgios delivered a serious box office blow on opening day of the Australian Open, with the controversial character forced to withdraw with a knee injury.

The Wimbledon finalist who won the home doubles trophy with Thanasi Kokknakis in 2022, brought his physio along for a medical explanation of the cyst on his knee.

Kyrgios tested the January injury at Friday’s exhibition match here with Novak Djokovic – and the result to the No. 21 was not encouraging.

“I’m obviously disappointed,’ Kyrgios said. This coming around is just bad timing. 

“But that’s life, injury is a part of the sport. I guess I can draw some inspiration from someone like Thanasi who has had a bunch of injuries and has bounced back.

“I’m not doubting I will be back to my full strength and playing the tennis I was playing prior to this event.

“I’m devastated obviously. It’s like my home tournament. I’ve had some great memories here – (like) 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 favourites, it’s brutal.

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

On court Rafael Nadal survived a freak disruption of his unbending match routine, with the Spaniard flustered as a ballboy apparently made off with one of his racquets after the first set.

Rafa Nadal survived a scare to win his first round match Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

The top seed was so unnerved that he dropped the second to Brit Jack Draper before shrugging off the incident and completing a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 opening victory.

Local media speculated that the ballboy could easily sell the valuable tennis artifact with ease.

Melbourne holder Nadal was pleased to get a Tour victory after losing both of his matches at the United Cup in Sydney and struggling with injury since losing in the fourth round of the US Open.

“Last year here was one of the most emotional events of my career,” the 21-time Grand Slam winner said.

“But now I need to keep working, I’m super-happy to be back here one more time as I begin my 19th pro season.

American Seb Korda in action in his first round match against Cristian Garin. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

“I really needed a victory, the last months were not easy for me. This is a very positive start.”

Polish 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz sent down 24 aces in his 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Spain’s Pedro Martinez. 

Italy’s Jannik Sinner, seeded 15, profitted from nearly 40 unforced errors off the racquet of Brit Kyle Edmund, sending the No. 583 down to defeat. 

Sinner won 11 straight games between the first and third set as he took command of the contest to power into the second round.

But crossing the finish line was tough, with the final game comprising six deuces and requiring six match points.

Frances Tiafoe held off Germany’s Danile Altmaier 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(6). 

Canadian Denis Shapovalov, a quarter-finalist 12 months ago, made a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 winning start over Serb Dusan Lajovic.

American Sebastian Korda, finalist eight days ago against Novak Djokovic in Adelaide, beat Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance.