Kyr­gios fal­ters

Mer­cu­rial Aussie, ham­pered by in­juries, ques­tions his fu­ture af­ter first-round loss in U.S. Open

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - San­dra Har­witt

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.

GE­OFF BURKE, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Nick Kyr­gios, above, lost to John Mill­man on Wed­nes­day 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.

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