It started with a party but by the end of the day, Australian tennis was left nursing a very big headache.
The nation’s Davis Cup title hopes hang by a thread after Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios both lost opening singles matches on a day of high drama in Darwin on Friday.
Kokkinakis suffered a 6-4 6-3 6-3 defeat to Mikhail Kukushkin in little more than two hours, before an emotionally-drained Kyrgios fell 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to world No.115 Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
Kyrgios was just one service game away from going ahead two sets to one.
But when he blew that chance and lost the third set in a tiebreak, emotions got the better of him, with the world No.41 yelling out: “I don’t want to be here.”
At 2-0 down, Australia’s pairing of Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth must now win their doubles encounter against Andrey Gulubev and Nedovyesov just to keep the tie alive.
The disappointing on-court results capped a forgettable day for Australian tennis, which was rocked by overnight news of Bernard Tomic’s arrest in America.
Tomic was taken into custody after failing to follow police orders to leave his $A9400-a-night penthouse following a night of loud partying.
It didn’t take long for the controversy to catch the attention of Tomic’s teammates, who were in Darwin preparing for Davis Cup battle.
“Obviously that’s the first thing that came up on my Facebook when I had a scroll. I saw about eight mug shots of him,” Kokkinakis said after his straight-sets defeat.
Davis Cup captain Wally Masur was adamant the controversy surrounding Tomic didn’t hurt the team’s chances against Kazakhstan.
“Look, it didn’t affect us. It’s a headline that we read,” Masur said.
“I messaged Bernie and he got back to me.
“He said, ‘I’m ok bro’, so that was good. And I got a double fist. I was pretty pleased.
“I’ve got kids, and believe it or not I was once called to a police station. Things happen.
“I just hope Bernie moves this smoothly, and gets back on the tennis court where he’s at his best.”
Kyrgios has also been in the headlines recently, with the 20-year-old admitting the loss tie had left him somewhat drained.
“Physically I felt ok. I felt like my body was good. But mentally, I almost felt a bit drained out there,” Kyrgios said.
“It was hard to focus. It was hard to dig deep. It was hard to push myself because a lot has gone on.”
Of his inability to hold serve at a crucial point in the contest, Kyrgios conceded: “That hurt me mentally a lot.
“When you’ve got a chance to serve out the third set and give your team a chance to level up the tie – I blew that chance, which wasn’t great.”
Tomic should have been with the Davis Cup team in Darwin but was overlooked following his outburst against Tennis Australia’s hierarchy at Wimbledon.
In his absence, Kokkinakis was handed responsibility for opening the tie against Kazakhstan’s top-ranked player.
But with his struggle to find his rhythm, Australia soon found themselves 1-0 down, heaping all the pressure on Kyrgios.