Australia’s French Open challenge is over and Nick Kyrgios’s Wimbledon preparations up in the air after a day of disappointment and despair in Paris.
Hampered by an elbow issue, Kyrgios dropped serve seven times and required a medical timeout during his “heartbreaking” 6-4 6-2 6-3 third-round loss to Andy Murray on Saturday.
Fellow young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis also crashed out on Saturday, the teenage ace gallant in a 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat on centre court to world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
But while Kokkinakis only dropped serve once in each tight set and could hardly have given any more against the hot title favourite, Kyrgios departed Roland Garros shattered and uncertain about his grasscourt plans.
A quarter-finalist at the All England Club last year and carrying high hopes again after claiming seeded status at a grand slam for the first time, Kyrgios had planned to contest Wimbledon lead-up events next week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and then Queen’s before the London major starts on June 29.
But now the 20-year-old will sit down with his team to reassess after the elbow injury that forced his withdrawal from last week’s Nice Open flared again.
“I have done so much and it’s pretty heartbreaking going out there and something like that holding you back,” Kyrgios said.
“I don’t know what I have to do at the moment. I only just got off the court 20 minutes ago.
“But I will do everything I can obviously to get ready for Wimbledon. That’s the next big one. I think that’s my best chance to win a grand slam.”
Murray’s victory was a repeat of his straight-sets Australian Open quarter-final triumph over Kyrgios, who once again also paid the price for untimely concentration lapses against the ruthless two-time grand slam champion.
Despite dazzling the crowd at Court Suzanne-Lenglen with some magical tennis, Australia’s world No.30 was agitated from the outset.
Two wild forehands and a double-fault gifted Murray the opening break of the match in the third game.
The tennis showman struck straight back with some breathtaking groundstrokes off both wings and had French fans in raptures when he pulled off an audacious under-the-legs lob winner.
But it was all to no avail as Murray snared the first set after Kyrgios handed the Scot a second break and he couldn’t convert several more chances of his own.
Growing more and more irritated, Kyrgios complained to his nearby box: “I can’t serve”.
“When the main part of your game – it’s won me matches before, it’s pretty much my main strength and it’s not there – it’s tough to play,” he said.
Kyrgios took his medical timeout to have his arm heavily strapped after falling two sets behind, but resumed to blast a ferocious forehand crosscourt winner to grab a 2-0 advantage in the third set and raise hopes of a fightback.
But it was not to be as Murray garnered three more breaks to clinch a 13th win from 13 outings on clay this year after one hour and 59 minutes.
The Scot next faces either Belgium’s 17th seed David Goffin or Frenchman Jeremy Chardy on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.
Kyrgios’s immediate future is not so certain.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” he said.
“But you guys can see for yourselves on the stats I’m not serving anywhere near the pace I usually serve.
“Yeah, it’s heartbreaking, really.”