NEW YORK: Fiery Australian Nick Kyrgios’s US Open campaign ended in pain and tears when he retired from his third round match against Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko with a hip injury on Saturday.
The 14th seed needed a medical timeout after dropping the second set and despite a series of further checks with the trainer, he quit after the third set feeling unable to move effectively enough around the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
“It’s tough. I don’t like to retire. It’s probably like the second or third time I’ve done it,” said 21-year-old Kyrgios who was bidding to make the last 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time.
“It’s never easy, of course. I’ve got a lot of belief in my game to still win matches when I’m not feeling great.”
Marchenko’s 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win gave the world number 68 a fourth round clash against two-time Grand Slam winner and third seed Stan Wawrinka.
The Swiss had earlier saved a match point to defeat Britain’s Dan Evans 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (10/8), 6-2.
“To be fair, my hip was bothering me my first two matches and I got through. I guess it was just a matter of time,” added Kyrgios.
“My physio has been helping me all week. I’ve been trying to fix it all week. But it’s the whole year leading up to it with the whole schedule.
“I got to take more time and be more diligent with the gym and everything so this doesn’t happen to me.”
Kyrgios’s misfortune deprived fans of the opportunity to see the Australian and Wawrinka renew their bitter rivalry.
At Montreal last year, Kyrgios was fined and given a provisional suspension for making a lewd sexual slur over Wawrinka’s girlfriend, tour player Donna Vekic.
The Australian’s latest Grand Slam agony comes after another rollercoaster summer.
Kyrgios skipped the Olympics after a row with the country’s top sports official while he caused a stir in New York by suggesting in a Twitter question and answer session that marijuana is used on a regular basis by some players.
Marchenko, meanwhile, finds himself in the last 16 of a Slam for the first time at the age of 28 having never previously got beyond the second round.
He arrived in New York having not won a match on the main tour since Istanbul in April, a losing run of seven successive matches.
Marchenko lost to Wawrinka in straight sets in their only other previous meeting in Indian Wells in March this year.
“He killed me completely, outplayed me in everything,” admitted the Ukrainian number two.
Even if he beats Wawrinka on Monday, Marchenko is not certain that tennis will make a big breakthrough in his country.
“It’s not really popular. But today I went on a practice. It was full stands. Obviously they came not for me — it was Djokovic next court,” he joked.
“Tennis is not really on TV. I mean, as you know, we have a lot of other problems. It’s not too much into sport right now.”