A French Open that had promised so much for rising star Nick Kyrgios has ended with the fiery Australian conceding he was “absolutely destroyed” by French nemesis Richard Gasquet.
The 17th seed entered the claycourt grand slam as the consensus dark horse on the back of promising performances on clay in reaching the semi-finals in Estoril and quarter-finals at the Madrid Masters.
He also walked into Roland Garros with the second-best record against top-10 players in 2016, behind only raging hot favourite and world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
But the 6-2 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 thumping at the hands of Gasquet on Friday highlights that the talented 21-year-old still has another level he needs to reach before grand slam glory will come his way.
“I got absolutely destroyed. Wasn’t really fun,” a sullen Kyrgios said.
“Leaves a bit of bad taste in my mouth. I thought I had a good claycourt season leading up, and it was just a bad performance today.”
After being broken three times in the opening set, Kyrgios dug deep in an attempt to get back into the match but cursed his missed opportunities in a draining second set.
Kyrgios repeatedly shouted “get out of my box” to brother Christos, sitting in the support area, after losing the second-set tiebreak 9-7.
He was in no mood to discuss what was behind that exchange but admitted his frustrations at having not closed out the tiebreak.
“I had chances in the breaker, and I just didn’t play – I struggled today pretty much in every aspect,” he said.
“I had chances in the second and I just didn’t play big. I just played really bad today. Really bad.”
Gasquet felt the second set tiebreak was pivotal in his victory.
“If I had lost the second set, I think … the outcome could have been very different,” Gasquet said.
“It could have been a five-set match, meaning a very different one.
“I was very adamant on winning the second set.
“We had long rallies. It was a long set. Then I think the fact I won the second set sort of knocked him out.”
Kyrgios needed a medical time-out early in the first set, with a physio arriving to massage his left shoulder.
The injury impacted Kyrgios’ ball toss and backhand, he said.
But he refused to apportion any blame on a shoulder complaint which troubled him in the first set, insisting it was simply Gasquet’s magnificent play which blew him off the court.
“I felt it this morning when I was in my warm-up, and I didn’t think it was anything, but it was bothering me a little bit and I got physio on it,” he said.
“It actually loosened up toward the start of the second set, so it’s hopefully not too bad. It feels okay now.”