Nick Kyrgios has all too famously lost the first round of the US Open, losing his composure in a lively straight-set defeat to 18th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut.
Most important points:
- 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 made his first appearance at the US Open since 2019
Kyrgios struggled to adapt to New York’s intense humidity and tennis’s strict COVID-19 protocols, overheating in more ways than one during a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 loss to the Spaniard .
Kyrgios also aimed for “bogans” in his box because he was “the only ones here (Louis Armstrong Stadium) wearing masks”.
But Kyrgios’ biggest complaint was the placement of the towels in the massive Louis Armstrong stadium, and he had to walk “too many steps” to wipe while sweating profusely in the stifling heat.
The global pandemic led to umpires 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 anywhere on the pitch,” Kyrgios told Bernardes.
When Bernardes intervened to remind Kyrgios that “it’s part of the game”, the Australian burst out.
“It’s not part of the game,” Kyrgios said.
“That’s part of the game. Everything is part of the game. I have to shit. Ah, part of the game. It’s damn stupid.”
Despite Kyrgios withdrawing from his last US Open run-up event with a knee injury, he started the match against Bautista Agut promisingly enough.
With an unusually steely focus, he dug in to guide Bautista Agut through an eight-minute opening service match.
He was unable to break the serve, but – mixing explosive forehands with beautiful drop shots – Kyrgios had his opponent under the gun.
But he first dropped the service immediately after his first substitution with Bernardes.
After conceding the first set, Kyrgios started muttering about the speed of the field and “playing at midnight”.
Inevitably, he dropped service again early in the second set, before receiving a second official warning for playing a ball in the stands in the first game of the third.
After missing last year’s US Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kyrgios received generous support throughout the match against Bautista Agut from Flushing Meadows fans who desperately wanted the match to go beyond the third set.
But they will have to wait at least another year to see Kyrgios return to singles at the US Open, with the 2021 campaign lasting less than two hours.