Unpredictable Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday stunned Australian tennis with a late pullout from the United Cup a day before the start of the ATP-WTA team event.

Kyrgios, ranked 22nd and a major drawcard for the new event, said he needed more time to prepare for the January 16 start of the Australian Open; he reportedly hurt his ankle playing this month at an exhibition last week in Dubai after also earning a bumper payday in Saudi Arabia.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald he aggravated the ankle problem during a Tuesday training session.

The Wimbledon finalist has  a patchy record in playing for Australia; he has not been on a Davis Cup side for three years and also skipped the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Kyrgios would have played Rafael Nadal at the United Cup group stage in Sydney.

“Nick suffered an ankle injury while playing in Dubai and has been advised by his team that he needs to take precautionary measures for two weeks leading into the AO,” Team Kyrgios said.

Aussie Cup captain Samantha Stosur took the absence of Kyrgios in stride: “We have got amazing players on this team.

“We are out here to do everything we can possible to try and win this competition. 

“It’s not going to be easy, there are many great players here but we are ready to go and we are going to give it everything we’ve got.”

Main photo:-Nick KYRGIOS press conference by Tennis Australia/ VINCE CALIGIURI