Kyrgios blows it
Image 2018 © AAP/Ben Curtis
A crestfallen Nick Kyrgios is blaming stage fright for his shocking third-round exit from Wimbledon.
Completing a miserable day for Australia at The All England Club, Kyrgios admitted he "panicked" and was stricken with nerves in crashing to a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 third-round defeat at the hands of Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori.
The 15th seed's elimination left Australia without a second-week contender for the second year running after Alex de Minaur, Matt Ebden and women's hopes Ashleigh Barty and Daria Gavrilova all also lost earlier on Saturday.
Kyrgios's exit, though, was undoubtedly the most disappointing - and dramatic.
Two days after being dubbed as "pathetic" for his childish conduct by former women's champion Marion Bartoli, Kyrgios handed his critics more ammunition with a lifeless first-set performance.
Looking utterly disinterested, Kyrgios gifted Nishikori a second service break - and effectively the set with a 5-1 advantage - when he fired a 215kph second-serve double-fault on break point.
"He kind of gave up," ex-British Davis Cup star Andrew Castle said on the BBC after Kyrgios surrendered the opening set in 16 minutes.
But Kyrgios said he merely couldn't deliver because of nerves.
"I felt great this morning. Hit the ball fine. As soon as I got out there, I just didn't feel good," he said.
"I was pretty uptight. A lot of nerves. I just struggled with a lot of things today. I just never settled.
"Obviously getting broken first game didn't help me. I just kind of panicked. Everything kind of just went south.
"I mean, he played well. I always find it tough playing him."
Kyrgios did muster the grit to retrieve a service break in the second set to force a tiebreaker.
Alas, his frustrations boiled to the surface after missing a backhand pass to give Nishikori three set points.
He belted a ball into the stands, drawing a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct from the chair umpire and loud jeers from the crowd on Show Court No.1.
Nishikori only needed one set point to convert and seize total command at two sets to love up.
Staring down the barrel, Kyrgios complained of being unable to move at one point as the match - which only started at 7.25pm local time - continued under fading light.
Kyrgios probably preferred it hadn't.
It was all over well before sunset, with Nishikori finishing off Australia's great white hope after just one hour and 37 minutes.