Canberra tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
NICK KYRGIOS will battle through the pain of a persistent knee injury as the Canberra ace keeps his dream alive of qualifying for the Australian Open.
Starting Monday, a 16-strong field will fight for a solitary wildcard berth in the main draw of the first major of the year at Melbourne Park, with experienced tour professionals Sam Groth and Greg Jones among the leading contenders.
Fellow ACT competitor Ashley Keir is also in the wildcard hunt in the women's draw despite losing in Saturday's semi-final of the under-18 girls division to Azra Hadzic.
Kyrgios, the winner of last year's junior doubles titles at the French Open and Wimbledon, is eager to test himself against senior opposition during the wildcard tournament.
''I was really stoked to receive an invitation and to have a chance to earn a spot in the Australian Open,'' Kyrgios said.
''The guys in the playoffs have a lot of experience so I'll probably have to play my best to even have a chance.
''It's great just to be in the mix.''
It's the second straight year Kyrgios has contested the wildcard tournament after going down in the quarter-finals to Marinko Matosevic 12 months ago.
Kyrgios earned his berth after strong performances at this week's under-18 national championships, with the 18-year-old contesting Sunday's final against fellow top seed and close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Kyrgios booked his place in the decider on Saturday with a comfortable straight sets 6-2 6-3 victory against Jay Andrijic, despite being forced to ice his knees after every match.
''They're not 100 per cent, all I can do is manage it as best I can,'' he said.
''With any injury, it won't get better until I have complete rest, so I'll take a week off after the December showdown.
''But it's not going to stop me this week.''