Australia’s last man standing unravelled after a dominant start to capitulate to a 5-7 6-4 6-1 6-2 second-round loss to tough South African Kevin Anderson overnight, Australian time.
The 18th’s seed’s elimination – featuring nine double-faults and six service breaks – leaves perennial women’s contender Samantha Stosur as Australia’s only third-round hope at Roland Garros.
Grief-stricken Kyrgios conceded his French Open hopes were all but cooked when his grandfather Christos died in April.
Kyrgios entered the tournament under a fitness cloud – and hip and shoulder niggles undoubtedly contributed to his demise as the 22-year-old coughed up an uncharacteristic nine double-faults in the four-set defeat.
After dominating early and in one game delivering an extraordinary four straight aces, Kyrgios’s serve faltered when it became apparent that hip and shoulder complaints made it impossible to extract any leg drive and follow through for his most lethal weapon.
But it was emotional torment that undermined Kyrgios’s campaign.
“After my grandpa passing, I just lost a lot of motivation to do anything, really,” Kyrgios said.
“When I was back home, it was tough. I mean, I can’t talk about it. I can’t.
“But I haven’t really put together any good training in the last couple weeks. Obviously, just trying to manage some niggles.
“And, obviously, I haven’t really structured any good training in the last five weeks.
“So I don’t think I was match-ready to play best-of-five sets, but he played well today. So he was too good.”
After a blazing hardcourt run in the United States – including two wins over defending French Open champion Novak Djokovic – Christos Kyrgios’s death and his grandson’s injuries conspired to limit Australia’s top men’s hope to a build-up of just four claycourt matches.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing just to lose, but, to be fair, my preparation for the claycourt season hasn’t been great. I feel like I’ve way underdone,” the 18th seed said.
His demise was as dramatic as it was disappointing.
Early on, the 22-year-old displayed in one extraordinary game why he could become Australia’s first men’s French Open champion in almost half a century.
But a point penalty for a violent assault on a changeover chair will instead dominate TV highlights, rather than Kyrgios’s four flush aces in one love service hold.
Nick Kyrgios has lost a racquet and the match as he went down to Kevin Anderson overnight #RG17 pic.twitter.com/vDi6i4PL9F
— 7Sport (@7SportAU) June 1, 2017
Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt predicted pre-tournament that Kyrgios’s lethal serve could cause carnage on the red clay and aid the 22-year-old’s prospects of venturing deep in the championship.
“He could easily get through to the fourth round and the the draw opens up and all of a sudden you’re deep into the second week,” Hewitt said.
“He’s got so much firepower that, if he’s serving well, he’s still able to serve through a slow clay court and get a lot of cheap points.
“And then he can go out and actually be quite aggressive on his return game and put pressure on his opponents.”
It’s a strategy that was working a treat against Anderson, with Hewitt courtside as Kyrgios achieved one of the rarest feats in tennis: rocketing down four aces in one game.
The stunning effort occurred in the eighth game of the opening set.
It was only three games later that Kyrgios rocked the one-time world No.10 with the first decisive break of the match.
He swiftly closed out the set before nabbing another early break in the second to forge ahead 2-0 and then 4-2.
But suddenly, as he did in his second-round Australian Open defeat to Andreas Seppi, Kyrgios collapsed.
He was broken for the first two times in the tournament in successive games to give up the second set before his title hopes spiralled out of control.
After receiving a code violation for angrily cracking his racquet into the dirt, Kyrgios copped his point penalty from chair umpire Damien Dumusois after double-faulting on set point and then obliterating a second racquet with a frenzied attack on the chair.
He lost the third set in 31 minutes, double-faulting to go a double break down as Anderson moved in for the kill.
Kyrgios was unable to convert either of two break-point chances in the second game of the fourth set before dropping his own serve the very next game.
He offered one last stand, fashioning three more break points on the South African’s big serve at love-40 in the second game.
But he was unable to capitalise as 31-year-old Anderson, the world No.56 in grand slam comeback from injury, closed out the match after two hours and 36 minutes to book a third-round meeting with Britain’s Kyle Edmund.
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