SYDNEY • Nick Kyrgios is racing against time to be fit for his home Grand Slam.
Australia's big tennis hope is suffering from a knee injury and will rely on cortisone to play in the Australian Open, which starts next Monday.
Yesterday the 21-year-old world No. 14, the best bet to break Australia's 41-year men's title drought in Melbourne, vowed he would fight on despite the pain he is suffering from.
"I'm getting some sort of cortisone thing but it's not an injection," said Kyrgios, who carried a hip injury into the US Open in September only to quit his third- round match against Ilya Marchenko.
"I'm going to lay it all on the line in Melbourne. Whether it hurts or not, I'm going to push it to the limit."
Meanwhile, Slovakia's world No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova had to overcome blistering heat yesterday, as she dropped just two games to win her opening match at the Sydney International tournament.
The diminutive player, who upset world No. 1 Angelique Kerber to win the WTA Finals in Singapore last October, swept past Germany's world No. 31 Laura Siegemund 6-2, 6-0.
"When you start a season, you always start with some confidence, no doubt, but you always need to get into this match rhythm," said Cibulkova. "It's not easy if I would expect myself to play like I did in the (WTA) final against Kerber, I think that would be too much expectation."
Former world No. 1 and seventh seed Caroline Wozniacki dumped Olympic champion and last year's finalist Monica Puig out of the tournament 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, while British sixth seed Johanna Konta was too strong for Australian Arina Rodionova, winning 6-3, 6-4.
Another Australian, former US Open champion Samantha Stosur, bombed out in the first round, going out 6-3, 6-1 to Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
"It was tough conditions out there. I don't really know what to say," said Stosur, who has not won a match in almost five months.
At the Hobart International, former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone announced her intention to retire from professional tennis.
"This is my last year of tennis... that's why I'm upset (I) didn't give the best here," the 36-year-old Italian said after suffering a first-round 6-3, 6-2 loss to Croatian qualifier Jana Fett.
The 2010 Roland Garros winner, who reached a career-high world No. 4 ranking in 2011, said that motivation and fitness were behind her decision to retire.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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