Novak Djokovic is being coy about his plans for the Australian Open, Olympic champion Alexander Zverev is celebrating the best season of his career, while the tennis world reaches out for Peng Shuai.
Nick Kyrgios has crashed out of the US Open in all-too-familiar fashion, losing his cool at anything and everything in a lively straight-sets first-round defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut.
Struggling to adjust to New York’s intense humidity and tennis’s strict new COVID protocols, Kyrgios overheated in more ways than one during a 6-3 6-4 6-0 loss to Spain’s dogged 18th seed.
He also took aim at “bogans” in his box for being “the only ones in here wearing masks”.
But Kyrgios’ biggest gripe was the placement of the towels inside the vast Louis Armstrong Stadium, and needing to walk “too many steps” to wipe down as he sweated profusely in the stifling midnight heat on Monday.
The global pandemic has led to officials no longer allowing ball people to handle players’ towels, prompting Kyrgios to rant and rave with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes after receiving a code violation for exceeding the shot clock between points.
“So I have to walk back to the box to wipe my arms because I’m sweating and I get a time violation but someone can go to the bathroom for 20 minutes and it’s OK? Explain it to me. It doesn’t make any f****** sense,” Kyrgios fumed.
“My job is to come out here and play, for the people. Not to walk back and forth to my towel. It’s not my job. It’s b*******.
“It’s my towel. I should be able to put it wherever I like on the court, really.”
When Bernados interjected to remind Kyrgios that “it’s part of the game”, the hot-head erupted.
“It’s not part of the game,” Kyrgios said.
“So texting someone’s part of the game, too? Taking 20-minute bathroom breaks is part of the game?
“That’s part of the game. Everything’s part of the game. I need to take a s***. Ah, part of the game. It’s f****** stupid.”
Despite pulling out of his last-up event with a knee injury, Kyrgios had started the match promisingly enough.
Displaying an unusually steely focus, he dug in to put Bautista Agut through an eight-minute opening service game.
He was unable to break but, mixing explosive forehands with exquisite drop shots, Kyrgios had the former Wimbledon semi-finalist under the gun.
Alas, he dropped serve for the first time immediately after his first changeover exchange with the umpire.
After conceding the first set, Kyrgios began muttering about the speed of the court and “playing at f****** midnight”.
The Australian inevitably dropped serve again early in the second set before receiving a second official warning for belting a ball into the stands in the first game of the third.
After boycotting last year’s Open in protest of the tour proceeding during COVID-19, Kyrgios the crowd favourite received generous support throughout from Flushing Meadows fans desperate for the match to endure.
Alas, they’ll have to wait at least another year to see his flashy tweeners after Kyrgios’s 2021 campaign lasted less than two hours.