Novak Djokovic is the perfect person in the perfect place to make the perfect apology – for his own sake.
Nick Kyrgios will step up his search for a full-time coach after confessing to mentally and physically capitulating after crashing out of the Australian Open in spectacular fashion.
Tennis great John McEnroe labelled Kyrgios a “black eye for the sport” after the volatile star inexplicably blew a two-set advantage to fall 1-6 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-1 10-8 to Italian Andreas Seppi on Wednesday night.
The 21-year-old carried a knee injury into the tournament and engaged in a running verbal battle with his courtside box over what he later dubbed “poor management” of his “banged up” body.
But while accepting he wasn’t physically strong enough for his home slam after hurting himself playing basketball earlier this summer, Kyrgios said his biggest problems were psychological.
“It’s mental. Mental side of things are big for me,” he said.
“That’s where a coach would be good … I don’t think there’s anyone in the top 100 without a coach except for me. That needs to change.
“Got to start taking it more seriously. Pre-season is an important part of the year. You build foundations for the rest of the year. Yeah, it’s on me.
“Obviously I wasn’t physically 100 per cent. But it’s mental.”
Kyrgios received an eight-week suspension for tanking at the Shanghai Masters in October reduced to three weeks on the condition that he consulted a psychologist.
He said he was continuing the counselling and that it was “going very well”.
But when asked if the psychologist was in Melbourne, the world No.13 sarcastically said: “Johnny Mack will know, mate. Just talk to him. He knows everything.”
Kyrgios had been in command before his mid-match meltdown.
He stood two games away from winning a place in the third round at 4-4 in the third set when, after constantly bickering towards his entourage, he was broken for the first time.
Kyrgios was docked a rare penalty point after receiving a second code violation for smashing his racquet into the court on the ensuing changeover, before Seppi served out the set to gain a foothold in the match.
He dropped serve twice more as Seppi raced through the fourth set to force a decider – two years after Kyrgios denied the Italian 8-6 in the fifth on the same court at Melbourne Park.
Kyrgios re-engaged to again close to within five points of victory with Seppi serving at 3-4 and love-40 in the tense deciding set.
Seppi – who took out Roger Federer in the third round, in 2015, saved all three break points, including the first with a lucky net cord, before wriggling free to hold.
He broke Kyrgios the very next game but, staring down the barrel, the Australian broke straight back after an audacious between-the-legs shot to send the capacity crowd inside Hisense Arena into raptures.
He garnered a match point in the 17th game of the crazy final set, but Seppi rifled a fearless forehand winner down the line to stay alive, before breaking Kyrgios and closing out the rollercoaster affair after three hours and nine minutes.
Struggling to digest his demoralising defeat, Kyrgios said he was likely to pull out of the Open doubles with Brit Dan Evans and that it was “far too soon” to think about Australia’s Davis Cup tie against the Czech Republic next month in Melbourne.
“I hope I can play, though,” he said.
“I love playing for Rusty (Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt).
“He’s always been there for me. Hopefully I can play, but we’ll see.
“There’s a lot of good players at the moment who can fill in for my spot and maybe do a better job.”