Nick Kyrgios declared himself fit for Wimbledon after his long injury lay-off but said he was “almost dreading” his return to tennis.
The 28-year-old pulled out of the Australian Open on the eve of the tournament, announcing he needed surgery on his knee, and he has played only one match since, last month in Stuttgart.
Kyrgios enjoyed by far the best season of his career last year, reaching the Wimbledon final and achieving the sort of consistent results that for a long time appeared beyond him.
He has made no secret of his wavering love for the sport and the lifestyle it requires and, while he described the first five months of the year as “brutal”, he was brutally honest about his feelings regarding his comeback.
“I don’t miss the sport at all,” he said. “I was almost dreading coming back a little bit. But it’s my job.”
It was clear in his defeat by China’s Wu Yibing in Stuttgart that Kyrgios’ knee was far from fully recovered and he pulled out of subsequent tournaments in Halle and Majorca.
The Australian has been practising at the All England Club over the last few days, though, and said: “I still think there’s some question marks, for sure.
“Obviously five-set tennis is a completely different base altogether. I look at my preparations last year coming in, I probably had the most ideal preparation possible. It couldn’t be any different this year.
“I’m not going to discredit the work I’ve put in for the last six months just trying to maintain my fitness, get back on court.
“I’ve been hitting with some really good players this week and my body is feeling OK. I’m going to take it one day at a time. I’m not going to look forward and put unfair expectations on myself.
“I’m just going to try to do everything I can, prepare, go out there and play some good tennis. I feel probably as good as I could feel at the moment.”
At his best, Kyrgios would be high up a list of possible challengers to defending champion Novak Djokovic, who he took a set off in the final 12 months ago.
The Australian has been handed a potentially tricky opener against Belgian David Goffin, who reached the quarter-finals last year, and in a 10-minute press conference veered between playing down expectations and insisting he can defy his limited preparations.
“I’m extremely confident,” he said. “I’ve never been a player that needs a lot of matches before playing a grand slam. I’ve always been kind of on the side of not playing too much.
“What I’ve achieved in my career never leaves. Last year, it wasn’t that long ago really. I feel like I’m still serving as good as ever. I’m still able to beat a lot of people on the court.
“The thing about tennis is the tour is so vigorous, there’s tournaments week in and week out, you kind of don’t have time to reflect on anything you’ve done. I’ve had so much time to sit back and be forced to look at everything I did last year. I wanted to do more.
“Pulling out of the Australian Open was one of the hardest things I had to do because I generally feel like, with the tennis I was playing and with my grand slam experience, just the way I was feeling, I felt like I could win that tournament.
“It’s been hard. I’m trying to expect the same sort of tennis that I was playing last year, and I don’t think that’s fair at the moment.”