Nick Kyrgios of Australia hits a return during the men's singles against Steve Johnson of America at the Shanghai Masters on October 10, 2017
Shanghai (AFP) - Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios apologised and said he had been unwell after he stormed off court to loud boos midway through his opening match at the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old issued a statement following his abrupt exit after losing the first set 7⁄5 on a tie break to the American Steve Johnson, having been docked a point for the second match running because of his conduct.
The ATP Tour is investigating and Kyrgios, similarly hit with a point penalty in losing the China Open final to Rafael Nadal on Sunday, said he was “gutted” to retire against Johnson.
A member of Kyrgios’s coaching team told AFP in Shanghai – where a year ago he was accused of “tanking” in defeat and consequently suspended – that the world-ranked 21 had injured his shoulder.
Hours later Kyrgios, whose undoubted talent has often been betrayed by his quickfire temper, made a statement on Twitter apologising and saying he was “gutted”.
“I’ve been battling a stomach bug for the past 24 hours and I tried to be ready but I was really struggling on the court today, which I think was pretty evident from the first point,” he wrote.
“My shoulder started to hurt in the practice today, which didn’t help either, and once I lost the first set I was just not strong enough to continue because I’ve not eaten much the past 24 hours.”
He will make a decision on Wednesday as to whether he takes part in his doubles match the same day with Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
Kyrgios did look in discomfort with his shoulder early on in the match against the unseeded Johnson.
But he seemed untroubled by the injury when they entered the tie break, but as in the final in Beijing, his temper soon got the better of him, after he was angered by the unsettled crowd and the umpire.
- ‘Sick of this place’ -
He began Tuesday’s match on his best behaviour but showed a first flash of irritation towards the end of the set, blasting a ball out of the court after he disagreed with a call.
Kyrgios and Johnson were both comfortable on their serves and they went into the tie break with signs Kyrgios was beginning to lose his cool.
He went 3-0 up in the tie break but as Johnson pegged him back he was irked by spectators in the close-knit arena getting up between points.
“What’s happening here?” he asked, before muttering: “Exactly why I shouldn’t come here.”
Kyrgios appeared to blame the umpire for failing to get the spectators in line and his afternoon spiralled fast when he received a point penalty.
“What is he doing? Is this normal?” Kyrgios asked somebody in the official area of the arena, where spectators and players are in close proximity.
“Poor officiating again,” Kyrgios complained, and added: “Sick of this place.”
After Johnson wrapped up the set Kyrgios had enough, shaking the hands of his opponent and the umpire – though not looking him in the eye – and packing his bag and leaving.
- Big guns primed -
Another notable exit in Shanghai was the seventh seed Pablo Carreno Busta, beaten by fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas.
Also out was the American Jack Sock after the 14th-seed retired against Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Fourth seed Marin Cilic was forced to fight, fending off Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-3, 7-6 (7⁄5).
World number one Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and rising star Alexander Zverev – the three top seeds – enter the fray on Wednesday.