January 15, 2019 / 12:56 PM / 6 months ago

Tennis: Injury-troubled Kyrgios falls to cap bleak day for Australia

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An injury-hampered Nick Kyrgios crashed out of the Australian Open first round on Tuesday with a 6-4 7-6(5) 6-4 thrashing at the hands of Milos Raonic that capped a dismal day for the host nation.

Tennis - Australian Open - First Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 15, 2019. Australia’s Nick Kyrgios receives a medical attention during the match against Canada’s Milos Raonic. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

A prodigious yet polarizing talent, former quarter-finalist Kyrgios suffered his earliest exit from Melbourne Park, leaving further doubts as to whether the 23-year-old Australian can realize his potential.

In a match neatly summarizing Kyrgios’s roller-coaster career, the 52nd-ranked player spent much of the night muttering expletives about the condition of his right knee and had a trainer working on the injury between sets.

When on his feet, he was often thrilling to watch under the lights at Melbourne Arena but gifted free points to the Canadian 16th seed with a slew of botched trick shots.

Kyrgios said his knee had nothing to do with the result and paid Raonic full credit for serving up a storm in the one-sided clash.

He then snapped at a reporter for asking about the injury.

“I don’t know why we’re talking about it. I literally just said it had nothing to do with my loss,” he said.

“Really pointless to keep asking me questions about it.”

Kyrgios was caught up in a local media storm on Monday, when compatriot Bernard Tomic publicly pilloried Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and said neither of the players wanted to play under the twice Grand Slam champion.

“We all know who those players are: myself, (Thanasi) Kokkinakis, Kyrgios,” Tomic told reporters at Melbourne Park after being eliminated in the first round.

Kyrgios distanced himself from the world number 88’s comments.

“I don’t know what to say. Like, I don’t have a big deal with anything,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to play Davis Cup. I love Davis Cup. If I don’t play, I don’t play. Like, I’m available. That’s all I got to say. Like, what do you want from me?”

Kyrgios was one of six home players sent spinning out of the tournament on Tuesday, including former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur and Australian women’s number two Daria Gavrilova.

Raonic moved into a second round clash with former champion Stan Wawrinka.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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