WELL, that was something.

Nick Kyrgios imploded on a grand scale in his second round loss to Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open. We're used to seeing him lose the plot, but rarely like this.

A match many expected the hometown hero to win in a canter lasted more than three hours and provided enough highlights - or lowlights in Kyrgios' case - to fill up news bulletins for the next week. Seppi spoiled the script by winning an incredible encounter 1-6 6-7 6-4 6-2 10-8.

There were no signs of what was to come - it was all going so smoothly at the start.

Kyrgios breezed through the first set and dominated the second set tiebreak, but midway through the third, he went into full meltdown mode.

The umpire gave him a code violation for an audible obscenity, then he swore again after serving consecutive double faults.

Heading back to his seat at a change of ends, he threw his racquet to the ground, earning yet another code violation. The second offence saw him slapped with a one-point penalty.

It was all downhill from there.

Seppi took the third set 6-4 then raced through the fourth 6-1 in the blink of an eye. It was that set in particular that riled onlookers.

Kyrgios looked disinterested and barely put up any fight at all. It's a criticism that has plagued him throughout his career - the fact he looked like he had given up.

The enigmatic 21-year-old almost looked like he would redeem himself in the fifth set. A late tweener when down 5-6 highlighted both his ridiculous talent and out-of-the-box thinking. Perhaps it's a thinking we will never understand.

But it wasn't to be. Seppi served for the match at 6-5 before Kyrgios broke him. Then Kyrgios had a match point himself but couldn't convert.

In the end, Seppi proved his mental strength was as impressive as his ability with the racquet, crushing the local's hopes and advancing to the third round, where he'll play Belgium's Steve Darcis.

Numerous professional athletes had their say on what Kyrgios dished up.

Tennis legend John McEnroe has hit out at Kyrgios before. Last year he laid into the Aussie after he lost to Illya Marchenko at the US Open because he was struggling with a hip injury.

He told the young gun if he wanted to whinge and complain, he should pursue another career that didn't involve playing professional tennis.

He was back at it again on Wednesday night.

"He could be the best player in the world, but mentally he's No. 200 in the world, and I think at critical moments it showed."

"It's OK to show your emotions, and I'd like to see that in a one-on-one game when you're out there by yourself," McEnroe added.

"But when he goes through those periods when he's not competing, then it's just a black eye for the sport. And it's a black eye for him."

News Corp Australia


Kyrgios spent plenty of time laying into his own camp looking on from the stands during the match, and said he felt bad for letting them down, but stopped short of saying he would apologise to his closest supporters.

"It hurts me to see them, they've got families, they're sacrificing their time trying to get me over the line. It's tough," Kyrgios said.

"There's a lot of players on tour in the heat of the moment that argue or give bad words to their box. But they (his supporters) understand. They know that I love them. It's all that matters really."

He admitted he felt like he was getting in his own way with his on-court demeanour, but also kept the loss in perspective, as he's done so often throughout his tumultuous career.

"That's how I feel (that I got in my own way). That's how it's been my whole career really. I put my head down, want it. But things happen. It's just me not being able to be consistent, not really wanting it. Stuff like that happens.

"I'm disappointed, but I'm OK. I'm alright. You know, the world keeps spinning. I lost one match."

Currently without a coach, Kyrgios said that's one area he would have to look at changing if he wanted to reach what many good judges believe is his limitless potential.

"The coach is always a question mark for me. I think that's one area where I obviously need to start taking a bit more seriously. I mean, I don't think there's anyone in the top 100 without a coach except for me. That needs to change," Kyrgios said.

"I've 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."


Speaking in his on-court interview immediately after the match, Seppi said he used the pair's last encounter as motivation this time around. The two last met in 2015, also at the Australian Open, when Kyrgios reversed a two-set deficit to win the match in five.

This time, it was to be the Italian's turn to celebrate.

"I was two-sets-to-love down and I said, OK, last time I was two-sets-to-love up and I lost and I would try to do the same so I just kept on fighting," Seppi said.

He also claimed he paid no attention to his opponent's obvious woes down the other end of the court.

"No. I was more concentrating on my game and not looking too much at what he's doing. It's always tough mentally if you think he's not fit, so I was just focusing on my game."

The classy veteran had to deal with a boisterous pro-Kyrgios crowd, but he had nothing but praise for the Melbourne faithful that turned up at Hisense Arena.

"It's always great in such an atmosphere," Seppi said. "I am turning 33 so I don't think I have too many matches left in this atmosphere so I'm always enjoying playing on big courts, and it was nice to get the win today."

News Corp Australia

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