Nick Kyrgios has lost in the first round of the US Open in all-too-familiar fashion, losing his cool in a lively straight-sets defeat to 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
- Kyrgios lost 6-3, 6-4 ,6-0 to his Spanish opponent
- The Australian had a series of verbal exchanges with the chair umpire
- Kyrgios was making his first appearance at the US Open since 2019
Struggling to adjust to New York’s intense humidity and tennis’s strict COVID-19 protocols, Kyrgios overheated in more ways than one during a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 loss to the Spaniard.
Kyrgios also took aim at “bogans” in his players’ box for being “the only ones in here (Louis Armstrong Stadium) wearing masks”.
But Kyrgios’s biggest gripe was the placement of the towels inside the vast Louis Armstrong Stadium, and needing to walk “too many steps” to wipe down as he sweated profusely in the stifling heat.
The global pandemic led to officials no longer allowing ball people to handle players’ towels, prompting Kyrgios to argue with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes after receiving a code violation for exceeding the shot clock between points.
“It’s my towel. I should be able to put it wherever I like on the court, really,” Kyrgios said to Bernardes.
When Bernardes interjected to remind Kyrgios that “it’s part of the game”, the Australian erupted.
“It’s not part of the game,” Kyrgios said.
“That’s part of the game. Everything’s part of the game. I need to take a shit. Ah, part of the game. It’s f***ing stupid.”
Despite pulling out of his last US Open lead-up event with a knee injury, Kyrgios started the match against Bautista Agut promisingly enough.
Displaying an unusually steely focus, he dug in to put Bautista Agut through an eight-minute opening service game.
He was unable to break serve, but — mixing explosive forehands with exquisite drop shots — Kyrgios had his opponent under the gun.
But he dropped serve for the first time immediately after his first-changeover exchange with Bernardes.
After conceding the first set, Kyrgios began muttering about the speed of the court and “playing at f***ing midnight”.
He inevitably dropped serve again early in the second set, before receiving a second official warning for belting a ball into the stands in the first game of the third.
After missing last year’s US Open during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyrgios received generous support throughout the match against Bautista Agut from Flushing Meadows fans desperate for the contest to go further than the third set.
But they will have to wait at least another year to see Kyrgios play singles again at the US Open, with the 2021 campaign lasting less than two hours.