Nick Kyrgios has played down injury concerns on a day of mixed fortunes for Australia’s French Open hopefuls.
Kyrgios is racing the clock to be fully fit for the claycourt showpiece after retiring from his second-round match at the Nice Open with right elbow soreness.
The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist was trailing Dominic Thiem 4-3 when he called it quits, refusing to take any risks three days out from the start of the year’s second major in Paris.
“Tough to retire today but I’ve played a lot of tennis recently and need to look after myself ahead of Roland Garros,” Kyrgios tweeted.
“It’s just a precaution, nothing major but I need to listen to my body.”
Kyrgios said he remained “Paris bound” and he may have been extra cautious after last year being forced to pull out of tournaments in Delray Beach and Acapulco because of a nerve issue with the same serving arm.
The 20-year-old will be seeded at a slam for the first time after climbing to a career-high No.30 in the world last week following his stunning victory over Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters.
Kyrgios’s mid-match retirement comes a day after ailing Australian No.1 Bernard Tomic pulled the pin, citing a virus, after losing the first set 6-2 to world No.269 Gianni Mina in his opener in Nice.
It was a better day for Australia’s other French Open seed, with Samantha Stosur handed a walkover into the quarter-finals of the Strasbourg International.
The 2010 Roland Garros runner-up next faces an interesting tussle with Croatian-born compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic, who defeated American Shelby Rogers 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-2 in her second-round match.
Tomljanovic is coached by Stosur’s long-time former mentor David Taylor, who not only guided the Queenslander to a French Open final and two semis in Paris, but also to her 2011 US Open triumph.
Stosur will get a good gauge of her form heading to Roland Garros this year against a bright up and comer armed with inside knowledge of the one-time world No.4’s credentialed claycourt game.
Fellow Australians Anastasia Rodionova and Olivia Rogowska remain a chance of joining Stosur in the Open’s main draw after scoring impressive first-round qualifying wins on Wednesday.
Rodionova battled back from a first-set bagel to upset 10th seed Julia Glushko 0-6 6-4 7-5, while Rogowska beat 18th seed Allaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-3.
But former junior world No.1 Jason Kubler suffered a crushing first-round qualifying loss to Portugal’s Tim Puetz.
Ranked 152nd in the world, Kubler now plays exclusively on clay to protect his vulnerable knees and centres his entire season on the French Open.
But Kubler’s 6-3 7-6 (7-5) loss to Puetz extends his grand slam isolation to more than five years.