Mercurial Aussie, hampered by injuries, questions his future after first-round loss in U.S. Open
There is absolutely no denying that Nick Kyrgios is a wildly talented tennis player, but he’s also a flawed individual who doesn’t understand where he belongs in the grand scheme of the sport.
Unfortunately, at this moment in time, the person most confounded by the conundrum that is Nick Kyrgios is actually Kyrgios himself.
After No. 14 seed Kyrgios suffered a disheartening 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 first-round defeat to fellow Australian John Millman in the U.S. Open on Wednesday, he again revealed his multifaceted perplexing personality.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed I lost today,” Kyrgios said, then changed gears. “It’s not the end of the world. I will get over it in probably a half-hour.”
It’s difficult to ever know how Kyrgios, 22, will present; what he will say, how he’ll react. And often, as he showed in his postmatch news conference, he offers a smorgasbord of emotions.
Within a 10-minute or so span, Kyrgios was insolent, immature, compassionate and confused.
The floodgates really opened when Kyrgios was asked whether his coaching relationship with Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean, a four-time Grand Slam tournament semifinalist based in South Florida, will continue after their original agreement to work through this U.S. Open.
“I don’t know, honestly,” Kyrgios said. “I’m not good enough for him. He’s very dedicated. He’s an unbelievable coach. He probably deserves a player that is probably more dedicated to the game than I am. He deserves a better athlete than me.
“I’m not dedicated to the game at all. He’s helped me a lot, especially with the training. ... There are players out there that are
“There are players out there ... that want to get better, that strive to get better every day. I’m not that guy.” Nick Kyrgios
more dedicated, that want to get better, that strive to get better every day, the one-percenters.
“I’m not that guy,” he added, bowing his head.
The match against Millman was another mixed bag for Kyrgios, which is about the way his year can be described.
He served 17 aces despite a shoulder problem that surfaced early in the third set for which he received medical treatment on court and at one point asked a ball boy to grab and stretch his arm.
“My arm felt numb,” he said. “What else do you want me to say? My arm is not broken, but it was sore.”
On the downside, there were the 60 unforced errors, the four breaks of serve on the 14 break points he presented Millman and the general frustration.
Kyrgios received a warning for an audible obscenity, which was reported to umpire Carlos Ramos from a linesperson. Ramos admitted not to hearing what Kyrgios said — a later look on TV showed him uttering the curse — and the Australian argued he hadn’t said anything wrong.
Then, after losing the third set, Kyrgios smashed his racket, which resulted in a point penalty and enabled Millman to start serving the fourth set at 15-0. Interestingly, after the match was over, Kyrgios was intent on taking the mangled racket with him and had to ask a ball boy what happened to it as it had disappeared from his courtside chair. Once retrieved, he attempted to zip it into his gear bag but it no longer would fit, so he just carried it off in his hand.
As for his season, the highlight was reaching the recent Cincin- nati final, which he lost to Grigor Dimitrov. He also was a semifinalist at tournaments in Miami, Marseille and Acapulco but has dealt with elbow, hip and shoulder injuries that have forced him to withdraw or retire from too many matches.
At the Grand Slams this season, Kyrgios fell in the second round in the Australian and French Open, and now the first round in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
“Obviously, I’m not having a shocking year,” he said. “Obviously, in the scheme of things, I’m not having the greatest year for what, maybe, people think I should have done. But the last three months have been a nightmare, really.”
If there’s an endearing quality to Kyrgios it’s that he seems to get along well with other players, in particular the fellow Australians he shares the Davis Cup stage with, and has a love of country. Australia will play in the Da-
vis Cup semifinal against Belgium, in Brussels, the weekend after the U.S. Open conclusion and he hopes to be there.
“Davis Cup is one of my priorities this year,” Kyrgios said. “I put it right at the top of my list. I have put a lot of effort into Davis Cup this year. I made myself available for every tie. It is my goal to win the Davis Cup.”
The Kyrgios conclusion for now is that despite possessing the kind of brilliance that could easily lead him to the No. 1 ranking, getting there seems well beyond his current capabilities.
The tennis world, however, will continue to hope he can find an inner peace, because his talent could produce incredible tennis memories.
Nick Kyrgios, above, lost to John Millman on Wednesday 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.