The top seed from Norway, Casper Ruud crashed out in the first round of the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo as he struggles to find the form that took him to the US Open final a few weeks back.
Today I wasn’t able to bring my best level but it’s an experience and a situation I will try to learn from. Casper Ruud
The world number three lost to Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-3 6-3 in what was his second opening round loss in consecutive weeks having also fallen in his opener at last week’s Korea Open to Chilean Nicolas Jarry in three sets.
The Norwegian lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open final last month and has hardly given himself time to breathe playing in the Davis Cup and Laver Cup before heading to last week’s Korea Open.
It all caught up with him in Tokyo against the world No.58 who broke him twice in the first set as he continually netted his shots leading to him admitting after the match, he had been trying too hard after his run in New York.
“I might have pushed a little too much and tried to go for too many tournaments and too many matches in a row but I really wanted to come to Asia and play these tournaments,” said the world number three.
“Today I wasn’t able to bring my best level but it’s an experience and a situation I will try to learn from.”
Nick Kyrgios, meanwhile, takes centre stage as he crushed Taiwan’s Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3 6-1 in his first match since the US Open.
Seeded five, the controversial Aussie ranked 20, said he “struggled to breathe” in the Tokyo air but that didn’t stop him sweeping aside the world No.87 Tseng in 66-minutes, dropping just seven points on his own service.
“The first couple of games I struggled to breathe, I think just the humidity and getting back into competitive play,” said Kyrgios, whose lawyer appeared for him earlier in the day at a court hearing in Australia, where he faces a charge by a former girl friend of common assault.
“I came out a bit slow, but I don’t play many matches so it’s hard to just get straight back into that competitive flow.
“But as soon as I held that first game, I found my form again and played really well.”
The Tokyo crowd chanted Kyrgios’ name and clamoured for the signed balls that he hit into the stands after the match having entertained them on court with a ‘tweener’ and bickering with the umpire.
“To play in front of the crowd is amazing, they’re so respectful and they always love good tennis,” said the 27-year-old.
“The last couple of years, Covid has affected the tournament so it’s just good to have this event back and running again.”
Australian number-six seed Alex de Minaur was unable to join his compatriot in the second round when he lost 6-3 6-2 to South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo.
Croatia’s number-nine seed Borna Coric beat another Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis – Kyrgio’s great friend and doubles partner – 6-4 7-6(4), while British number-eight seed Dan Evans beat Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-7(3) 6-1 6-4.
Also through the first round are the American trio of Frances Tiafoe (4), Mackenzie McDonald and Brandon Nakashima