Aussies kick off WTA and ATP Australian Open by missing top stars

Nick Kyrgios and Jelena Ostapenko, left and right, greet Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley during the players’ news conference on Wednesday. (Logan Abassi/The New York Times) Nick Kyrgios and Johanna Konta were among the…

Aussies kick off WTA and ATP Australian Open by missing top stars

Nick Kyrgios and Jelena Ostapenko, left and right, greet Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley during the players’ news conference on Wednesday. (Logan Abassi/The New York Times)

Nick Kyrgios and Johanna Konta were among the biggest names absent from the opening day of the new WTA and ATP Australian Open on Wednesday.

Nick Kyrgios will miss the season’s first major through a combination of injury and personal issues.

The 2015 Australian Open semi-finalist told Tennis Australia on Monday that he won’t play at the start of the new season in order to concentrate on himself.

“It’s absolutely a pity to not be out there playing at the Australian Open. Nick is committed to working through this shoulder issue to be in the best possible shape to compete in the Australian Open at a later date. He wishes the Australian Open all the best in its bid to host the first official day of competition at Melbourne Park in 23 years,” said Kyrgios’ manager Paul Mathieu.

Ostapenko, seeded 17th at the Australian Open, is also absent due to illness.

The third round of qualifying was delayed by nearly a day on Wednesday because of weather issues and four matches were lost, although when play resumed conditions were much better.

World No. 1 Angelique Kerber won her qualifying match against Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-4 before world No. 17 Karolina Pliskova beat Olivia Rogowska 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Nick Kyrgios’ compatriot Jelena Ostapenko, second round opponent Wednesday, was not at the draw ceremony and has not yet publicly explained why she will not be playing in the women’s draw.

Players who draw a bye to the second round of the Australian Open get a day off when the draw ceremony is held.

Top-ranked Angelique Kerber won her qualifying match against Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-4 before world No. 17 Karolina Pliskova beat Olivia Rogowska 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

“I felt very comfortable on court. I’m very happy with my start to the tournament,” said the 10th-seeded Kerber.

She will face Dutch wildcard Kiki Bertens in the first round.

Caroline Wozniacki and Daria Kasatkina, ranked 22nd and 20th respectively, had comfortable wins at the qualifying round on Monday.

US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka, who is set to return from a hiatus of more than a year when she turns 27 in August, kicked off her build-up to the Australian Open by defeating qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the $395,000 Encompass Series hardcourt event in the Las Vegas.

The tournament will be held from April 27-May 6 at the IBD Tennis Resort and Spa.

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