As if it wasn’t enough that five of the top ten were absent from the US Open with injuries, another player marquee name, Nick Kyrgios, joins the list losing his opening round against his Australian countryman John Millman in what was a topsy-turvy match.
For Kyrgios it was another frustrating blow to his career as he struggles to make the sort of impact everyone now expects of him, especially after reaching the final of Cincinnati by defeating Rafa Nadal only to then fall to Grigor Dimitrov.
I knew that after I lost the first I knew I had to dig deep. Played a great second set. Was feeling good. And then I don't know. I just - something didn't feel right in my arm Nick Kyrgios
He lost 6-3 1-6 6-4 6-1 receiving treatment to his right shoulder during the second game of the third set, at one point even asking a ball boy to stretch out his right arm! The 14th seed’s temperament can prove a major factor in his matches and it became clear from an early stage that he wasn’t happy, berating his supporters in the players’ box for not vocally supporting him enough.
“I knew that after I lost the first I knew I had to dig deep,” Kyrgios admitted. “Played a great second set. Was feeling good. And then I don’t know. I just – something didn’t feel right in my arm.”
But then the problem became a real one whilst serving during that fateful second game of the third set which led to a numbness in his arm.
Calling for the trainer he received treatment but it proved ineffective.
“I wasn’t feeling it at all and then on one serve I lost power in my arm. Just on my serve,” Kyrgios revealed later. “One serve, then completely dead. It’s so dead and numb. It’s incredibly weak. It’s just so annoying.”
To add to his woes he was handed a code violation by umpire Carlos Ramos for swearing.
That misdemeanour was reported to Ramos by a line-judge and lead to Kyrgios denying it as he was berating himself for his run of bad luck as he walked to his chair on a changeover.
“I didn’t swear. You can’t give me a code. You don’t even know what I said,” Kyrgios said and then adding: “Man, this is ridiculous. What is this? This is a joke.”
On the resumption of play he promptly lost his serve to hand Millman a two-sets to one advantage, destroyed his racket in exasperation to draw a second code violation and the loss of a point at the start of the fourth.
He saved a series of break points in the opening game but fell behind 2-0 and after two-hours and 15-minutes, conceded victory leaving the court with his head down and some boos resonating in his ears.
Speaking at his post-match press conference, Kyrgios admitted he lacks commitment.
“I have had a diabolical year at these slams. It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “It’s just the story of my career, really. I will have good weeks; I’ll have bad weeks. It’s just a roller-coaster.
“In Cincinnati, I was not doing anything different. I was probably less dedicated than I was this week. I was playing basketball at Lifetime Fitness every day for two hours. Like I played an hour of basketball before I played David Ferrer in the semi-final.
“I was going to ice cream, like this Graeter’s place getting a milkshake every day. I was less dedicated.
“And this week I was dedicated, and my shoulder starts hurting. I don’t know.”
Kyrgios’s premature exit follows a first-round loss at Wimbledon and second-round defeats in Paris and Melbourne.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I keep letting people down,” he said.
But while Millman accepted his place in the second round, he wasn’t very happy. “It’s a victory, but a hollow victory,” he admitted. “I know in the back of my mind his shoulder deteriorated as the match went on.
“He’s a teammate. I feel for him — I really do.”
With 87 matches to complete in order to catch up with the loss of play on Tuesday, Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov made quick work of opponents when they finally got the call to the courts.
The sixth-seeded Thiem beat Australian Alex de Minaur 6-4 6-1 6-1, and seventh seed Dimitrov followed him in the Grandstand with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory over qualifier Vaclav Safranek of the Czech Republic.
Also advancing to round two were 15th seed Tomas Berdych, who beat American Ryan Harrison in straight sets, the 18th seed Gael Monfils, who swept past fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, and another Frenchman Also through the 30th seed Adrian Mannarino, a straight-sets winner over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis.
However, the 22nd seeded Fabio Fognini and the 26th seed Richard Gasquet were eliminated.