Kyr­gios falls apart, then falls to An­der­son

French Open’s 18th seed fades fast af­ter be­ing pe­nal­ized for smash­ing rack­ets dur­ing match.

Los Angeles Times - - COLLEGES - As­so­ci­ated press

PARIS — Nick Kyr­gios’ tal­ent is un­de­ni­able. So is his tem­per­a­ment.

Docked a point for smash­ing rack­ets, the 18th-seeded Kyr­gios went from a set and a breakup in the French Open’s sec­ond round to a swift loss, ced­ing 16 of the last 19 games while be­ing beaten 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on Thurs­day by Kevin An­der­son.

As men’s ten­nis searches for the face of its next gen­er­a­tion, per­haps some­one who one day will fill a void left by folks such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, No­vak Djokovic and Andy Mur­ray, there are those who be­lieve Kyr­gios, 22, has the flashy game and at­ten­tion-at­tract­ing per­son­al­ity to fit the bill.

Still, it takes on-court suc­cess to lead a sport, and Kyr­gios’ un­even at­ti­tude dur­ing matches can de­rail him at a mo­ment’s no­tice. That hap­pened Thurs­day, and it was no­ticed by An­der­son — a 31year-old South African ranked 56th and only once a quar­ter­fi­nal­ist in 31 ap­pear­ances at Grand Slam tour­na­ments.

“While he was sort of get­ting into his own head and strug­gling with some [of] his own bat­tles,” An­der­son said, “I didn’t give him a way to get back in the match.”

Other seeded play­ers lost on Day 5 of the clay-court ma­jor, when No. 1 Andy Mur­ray and No. 3 Stan Wawrinka moved into the third round.

Those ex­it­ing in­cluded No. 12 Madi­son Keys. Both­ered by her sur­gi­cally re­paired left wrist, the Amer­i­can was elim­i­nated by 290thranked qual­i­fier Pe­tra Mar­tic of Croa­tia 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. No. 20 Barbora Strycova and No. 29 Ana Kon­juh were among other women elim­i­nated.

No­table elim­i­na­tions among men in­cluded 2010 Wim­ble­don run­ner-up To­mas Berdych and 2013 French Open run­ner-up David Ferrer.

None, though, de­parted quite as de­struc­tively as Kyr­gios, who has proven ca­pa­ble of beat­ing stars such as Federer and Nadal, but also has been prone to fits of pique, not to men­tion losses be­fore the fourth round at six of the last seven Grand Slam tour­na­ments.

Af­ter tak­ing the open­ing set and lead­ing 4-2 in the sec­ond Thurs­day, Kyr­gios fell apart.

Down 5-4 and serv­ing, he smacked a 136-mph ace — one of his many skills — to get within a point of 5-all. But then a poor drop shot hit his side of the net tape. Next came a double-fault that gave An­der­son a set point and prompted Kyr­gios to spike his racket, which got man­gled and bounced so far it landed at the feet of a line judge be­hind the base­line.

That drew a warn­ing from the chair um­pire for racket abuse. But Kyr­gios was hardly done. Af­ter gift­ing An­der­son the set with a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive double-fault, Kyr­gios trudged to the side­line, head bowed, sat down and pro­ceeded to whack his racket six times against a metal box. The loud re­ver­ber­a­tions caused An­der­son to turn to his right and check out what was go­ing on — and drew a point penalty, as­sessed at the be­gin­ning of the third set.

“I don’t know if that’s the best role model you want,” Kyr­gios ac­knowl­edged with a smile, af­ter be­ing told by a re­porter that a boy sit­ting nearby in the front row at Court 3 was fol­low­ing this dis­play. “But, I mean, I’m not try­ing to show any­body, re­ally, my frus­tra­tion. I just do it for my­self. I’ve been do­ing it my whole ca­reer, re­ally. I think it’s just a habit now.”

Kyr­gios’ ex­pla­na­tion for his col­lapse was that he hadn’t been able to have the proper prac­tice or prepa­ra­tion head­ing into Roland Gar­ros, in part be­cause he was trou­bled by in­jury is­sues. He dis­missed the idea that he was deal­ing with some­thing phys­i­cal.

“The sur­pris­ing thing is, I was in a win­ning po­si­tion to­day,” Kyr­gios said, “and I still could have won.”

What re­ally mat­ters, of course, is that he did not.

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