WASHINGTON, Aug 4 — Longing for the days when he would scream and throw racquets, Nick Kyrgios struggled to care on crucial points in making a first-round exit Tuesday at the ATP Citi Open.
The 26-year-old Australian, who won the Washington event when it was last played in 2019, lacked his trademark spark and passion in a 6-4, 6-4 loss to American Mackenzie McDonald.
“I’m disappointed,” Kyrgios said. “My head’s in the shed, to be honest.”
Kyrgios, a six-time ATP champion, was known for racquet-smashing anger and screaming when upset. But those trademarks were missing in defeat.
“I feel like I actually enjoyed my tennis more when it was so up and down. Like you see me today, like I’m losing and I’m barely getting angry,” Kyrgios said.
“I actually miss the days when I was losing and I was carrying on and I was getting fined and I was throwing my racquets.
“That just meant that I just cared a lot. I actually cared what was happening. Now I lose and I’m actually happy for the other guy.”
Kyrgios, ranked 77th, was in only his fifth event of the year and since last year’s Covid-19 shutdown began.
“I can’t be too hard on myself. I haven’t played a lot of matches,” Kyrgios said. “I don’t really feel like my body and my mind quite understand the severity of some points because I haven’t played that much.
“I never want to lose. I’m a competitor. But... it’s weird. When I’m out on court, I don’t feel the severity of a break point, I don’t feel the pressure like I used to. It’s like I don’t feel the emotions as much as I used to when I’m on court.”
Earlier this week, Kyrgios spoke of having mental issues “20 times” more severe than those faced by Naomi Osaka and the sport taking him to a “dark” place.
“I’m going through my problems off the court. They can be playing a part,” he said. “It’s tough. I’m dealing with problems like we all are. I feel like it affected me a little bit today.”
Kyrgios sees more tennis as his only path back to his former form, which saw him rise as high as 13th in the rankings in 2016.
“I’ll get back on the practice court. All I can do is just keep trying to play, keep swinging and hopefully things will turn,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get some momentum, get back to some of the old tennis that I can play.”
Revenge for second seed
Second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime bounced back from a first-match Olympic exit, shaking off jet lag and rallying to defeat Andreas Seppi 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, at the US Open hardcourt tuneup after losing to the Italian in the first round of this year’s French Open.
“I really wanted to find a way to win that match, to get my revenge just more for myself than anything else,” Auger-Aliassime said.
Auger-Aliassime trains under Toni Nadal, the uncle of Washington top seed and 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal, who opens Wednesday with a second-round match against American Jack Sock.
British seventh seed Cameron Norrie reached the third round by beating American Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-3.
American Brandon Nakashima celebrated his 20th birthday with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Australia’s Alex Popyrin, booking a second-round match with British sixth seed Daniel Evans.
Nakashima jumped to a career-best 89th world ranking after reaching his first two ATP finals the past two weeks at Los Cabos and Atlanta, losing to Norrie in Mexico and American John Isner at Atlanta.
Sebastian Korda, the 21-year-old American son of former Czech star Petr Korda, ousted Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 6-4 to reach the third round.
Korda, seeded 12th and a career-high 45th in the rankings, reached his first ATP final in January at Delray Beach and won his first ATP title in May at Parma. — AFP