Kyrgios has been playing it cool in the lead up to Brisbane. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
Kyrgios has been playing it cool in the lead up to Brisbane. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

An answer to the Kyrgios mystery

NICK Kyrgios will kick off his Brisbane International title defence Tuesday afternoon, as punters wait to see just how rusty the Australian tennis star really is.

The reigning champion has been vague about his fitness ahead of Tuesday's first round clash with American Ryan Harrison and raised eyebrows earlier this week when he claimed he had not practised "at all" in December.

With Kyrgios also revealing he suffered a spider bite on Christmas Eve, all eyes have been on the 23-year-old as he ramps up preparations for his title defence.

He has given little away over the last few days while in Brisbane, keeping his practice sessions at a low intensity.

Kyrgios also took to the court on Monday in his doubles match with American Taylor Fritz and while he did not appear to be hampered by injury or struggle with fitness, it is fair to say he did not fully exert himself in the loss to American Austin Krajicek and New Zealander Artem Sitak.

Tuesday's clash on Pat Rafter Arena will be his first major test for the Australian summer and will also show whether his claims about his laid-back pre-season can be taken at face value.

Kyrgios is not the only Australian man who will open his Brisbane International singles campaign, with crowd favourite Alex de Minaur to meet fellow countryman Alexei Popyrin in the night session on Pat Rafter Arena.

di Minaur took to the court with Hewitt. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
di Minaur took to the court with Hewitt. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

De Minaur was the breakout star of last year's Brisbane International and, despite a disappointing doubles loss with Lleyton Hewitt on Monday, the 19-year-old said he was looking forward to returning to the tournament that kicked off his successful 2018 season.

"To come back here brings back great memories of where my year started,'' he said.

"The match against Milos Raonic (a straight sets upset at Pat Rafter Arena) really gave me momentum which I was able to use for the rest of the year.

"I've been hitting the balls well and feeling confident.''

di Minaur is expected to be one of the tournament’s big draws. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
di Minaur is expected to be one of the tournament’s big draws. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

De Minaur is expected to be a major drawcard, alongside fellow Australian Destanee Aiava, who will open the night session on Pat Rafter Arena with a clash against Naomi Osaka.

Kyrgios is one who is keen to see how de Minaur backs up his breakout season, with James Duckworth, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alex Bolt and Jordan Thompson among the other Australian men in action.

"It's always great seeing other Aussies do well," Kyrgios said of de Minaur.

"I'm not the jealous or envious type. When I see them do well, I'm happy for them.

"To see what Alex has been doing on the big stage ... I know he's excited for the Aussie summer and I'm sure he'll do very well."

News Corp Australia


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