Kyrgios meltdown follows Aussie Open defeat
NICK Kyrgios says he needs to take tennis "more seriously” and hire a coach after his latest on-court self-destruction last night saw him suffer his earliest Australian Open exit in three years.
The hot-headed Australian was seemingly cruising to a straight-sets victory over Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.
But Kyrgios, who talked up his chances of ending the host nation's 41-year title drought after a dominant first-up win, instead suffered another psychological descent that exposed his mental demons.
The 21-year-old Canberran had a match point in a manic fifth set, but suffered an inexplicable 1-6 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-2 10-8 second-round defeat in three hours and nine minutes.
Kyrgios, the 14th seed, delayed his fate at 5-6 in the final set when he broke Seppi back - beginning with his startling decision to hit one of his nonchalant "tweeners” on the first point.
It was those sorts of actions - even though it proved successful for him on that occasion - that led to former world No. 1 John McEnroe criticising him for the second time in four months.
"It's a black eye for the sport,” McEnroe said in his ESPN commentary role of Kyrgios' effort.
Kyrgios also picked up a pair of code violations, firstly for an audible obscenity and the second, which cost him a point penalty, for angrily sending his Yonex racquet spiralling late in the third set.
The mostly raucous support on Hisense Arena dissipated post-match, when sections of the crowd booed him from the court.
"It's obviously disappointing. But, you know, it was ultimately a pretty fun match,” Kyrgios said.
"He's a great guy and he deserved it, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it.
"Yes, obviously it's not the greatest thing to hear (booing at the end). I didn't have the best preparation coming into the Australian Open. Pretty banged up, my body.
"You know, I don't even know what the score was in the end. Was it 10-8? 10-8 in the fifth, getting booed off, definitely not the best feeling.”
Kyrgios entered the Open under an injury cloud because of a knee injury sustained playing basketball in the off-season, and used cortisone patches to speed up the recovery phase.
He repeatedly lambasted his courtside support crew, including strength-and-conditioning coach Martin Skinner, from midway through the third set in regards to fitness work he did between matches.
"I didn't have the best preparation. It's on me. (I) did a couple things in the off-season that I'm probably not going to do next time,” Kyrgios said.
"It's on me, I guess. My body's not in good enough shape. You live and you learn.”
One of those things he won't repeat include "maybe” not indulging his basketball passion so much.
This latest episode could even convince Kyrgios to finally hire a coach again, having gone solo since parting ways with former mentor Todd Larkham in mid-2015.
"The coach is always a question mark for me. I think that's one area where I, obviously, need to start taking (it) a bit more seriously,” Kyrgios said.
"I mean, I don't think there's anyone in the top 100 without a coach except for me. That needs to change.
"I knew that for a long time. I kind of like the freedom of just going out there, doing whatever, going with the flow a little bit. I just like being comfortable.”
Kyrgios confirmed the counselling he started as part of the ATP penalty for "tanking” his second-round match in Shanghai in October was ongoing.