Thursday will mark an important anniversary in Nick Kyrgios’s life: Last year in Shanghai he openly threw a match, abused fans in the stands, and earned eight weeks of suspension plus $41,500 in fines (later softened to three weeks after he agreed to meet with a tour-appointed sports psychologist). Today in Shanghai, he performed an acoustic, understated version of his greatest hit.
Kyrgios looked great last week in Beijing—before melting down in the final against Rafa—and lucked into a very manageable draw in Shanghai, finding himself in a quarter with beatable seeds Marin Cilic, Pablo Carreño Busta, and Kevin Anderson. But in his first match, Kyrgios offered some perfunctory handshakes and walked off after the first set, which, to be fair, is slightly better than making an outright mockery of the contest.
Anyway, at this point you know the drill, so let’s keep this quick:
Opponent: Steve “Luigi” Johnson
Timing: Immediately after losing the first set 7-6(5)
Buildup: Received a code violation in the 6-6 game (blasting balls angrily out of the court) and then another code violation in the tiebreak (loudly cursing) that earned him a point penalty, evening the score at 4-4.
Choice quote: “If I lose this set I’m retiring and going home,” Kyrgios was overheard saying at 5-4 of the tiebreak.
Excuse: Stomach bug (last cited in March before he skipped his much-anticipated meeting with Roger Federer in Indian Wells):
Aftermath: A representative from the ATP told me that the tour is currently investigating Kyrgios’s retirement from the match. ATP rules require that a player receive a medical evaluation in case of withdrawal.