No. 14-seeded Australian Nick Kyrgios roamed every inch of his home stage in a complete meltdown performance on Wednesday at the Australian Open, failing to close out a 2-0 set lead in a 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 loss to Italian Andreas Seppi in the second round.
Amidst Kyrgio’s greatest hits on the night were some trademark tanking, screaming at his players’ box, and in the end getting booed by the home crowd when it didn’t appear he was giving his best effort.
“Obviously it’s not the greatest thing to hear,” Kyrgios said of the jeers. “I didn’t have the best preparation coming into the Australian Open. Pretty banged up, my body. 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.”
Yelling at his players’ box in regard to his own conditioning — apparently that he did too much during the off-season — Kyrgios said in his post-match conference, “Poor management, I guess. It’s on me. Did a couple things in the off-season that I’m probably not going to do next time. My body’s not in good enough shape. You live and you learn…maybe just not play as much basketball. Actually take my pre-season seriously.”
Seemingly calm and determined through the first two sets, Kyrgios unraveled in the third when his body language changed and he ended the set by smashing a racquet and almost nicking a ball kid, leading to a code violation from the chair umpire and the beginning of the end. The loss led Kyrios to question his direction for 2017.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the Top 100 without a coach except for me. That needs to change. Got to start taking it more seriously. Pre-season is an important part of the year. You build foundations for the rest of the year. Yeah, it’s on me.”
Joining Seppi in the upset circle were Brit Daniel Evans who faced down No. 7 Marin Cilic 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3, and German Mischa Zverev who likewise took apart another big-serving game, ousting No. 19 John Isner 6-7(4), 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(7), 9-7.
“I was a bit taken aback how hard he hit the ball,” Evans said of Cilic. “So, yeah, had to sort of get in the match and hang in at the start of the second…I think I put him under pressure with his second serve. I was making a lot of second serve returns.”
Regarding his mis-matched kit, Evans says with another couple wins he may earn another clothing contract.
“I’m just out of contract with Nike,” the Brit said. “They didn’t offer me another contract. I just went to the store and bought a load of clothes the other day, plain clothes. It’s Uniqlo. 19.99, the shirts are. I only wore one shirt today. I’m good till Friday.”
Evans will next face Aussie Bernard Tomic, who in the final night match held off Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic 7-5, 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5).
Zverev said going to another mental place was the difference in beating Isner.
“I felt like I was in a weird — I just felt weird,” he said. “I didn’t really think what was going on. At times I didn’t even know the score. I think in the fourth I had love-40 on his serve and I didn’t even know that. I don’t know if helped or not. Then saving match point at 5-4 in the fourth, I also didn’t know it was match point. I thought it was 4-3…Honestly, at one point I didn’t know if it was 9-7 or 10-8. I didn’t really care. I just knew I had to break him and try not to lose my serve at all.”
World No. 1 Andy Murray wasn’t down for any weird or funny business Wednesday, rolling over Russian Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-0, 6-2, and setting a meeting with No. 31 seed Sam Querrey, who stopped the run of Aussie teen Alex De Minaur 7-6(5), 6-0, 6-1.
Other Top 10 winners were No. 4 Stanislas Wawrinka over American Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, No. 5 Kei Nishikori straight-setting France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, and No. 10 Tomas Berdych likewise handling American Ryan Harrison 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-2.
Berdych will next face the No. 17 seed, a young Swiss named Roger Federer, who defeated American Noah Rubin 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(3).
“I know I’ve got to lift my game a little bit,” said Federer, who has won his last five matches against Berdych. “I thought he was going to have a tougher time against Ryan [Harrison], to be honest, because Ryan has been playing well recently again. Super early in the draw. The court plays fast, like I said. He’s caused difficulties for me in the past on faster courts: Cincinnati, New York, Wimbledon, Olympics in Athens. I know what he’s got. I don’t need to tell you where he’s beaten me.”
Wawrinka will square off against No. 29 Viktor Troicki, who needed five sets to defeat Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3.
No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 23 Jack Sock set a third-round meeting after the Frenchman eased past Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, and Sock likewise handled Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Thursday highlights in Melbourne include (2) Novak Djokovic vs. Denis Istomin, Marcos Baghdatis vs. (9) Rafael Nadal, the serving battle of Gilles Muller vs. (3) Milos Raonic, the shot-making battle of (6) Gael Monfils vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov, the Next-Gen battle of (24) Alexander Zverev vs. Frances Tiafoe, and Radek “The Worm” Stepanek vs. (11) David Goffin.
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