Nick Kyrgios lost at a Grand Slam, which means it’s time for another referendum on his career.
The mercurial 21 year old was being pushed but had maintained control over Illya Marchenko in the final match of the night when he reaggravated a hip problem running for a ball. He soon lost the second set, and Marchenko cruised in the third as Kyrgios pushed through the pain before retiring.
John McEnroe, despite not being prepared himself (as many have mentioned), spent the third set in the commentator’s booth bemoaning the Aussie’s professionalism and imploring Kyrgios to fight, even though it was clear he had a higher chance of injuring himself further than winning.
There’s a lot of things to nitpick with Nick Kyrgios: he’s lost in the fourth round or prior in his last seven Slams, he still doesn’t have a coach or trainer, and it’s clear his commitment to the game is spotty at best.
However, while it’s possible this re-injury is the result of lack of fitness work, this is not the inflection point for Kyrgios. Nothing that happened on Saturday night should change people’s feelings towards him. In fact, he was visibly sad during a trainer’s visit, sparking talk over whether his adamant stance on not liking the sport is at least partially a defense mechanism.
If you want to dislike Kyrgios for something, it should be for his misogynistic remarks or the rudeness he displays toward ballkids and volunteers. That people have him slotted as a future No. 1 and Slam winner despite all the evidence to the contrary is their fault, not his.
Other Saturday headlines
-Stan Wawrinka and Dan Evans played what might be the match of the tournament thus far, with Wawrinka saving a match point in an extended fourth set tiebreaker and staving off the upset in five. Though Evans faded in the fifth, the match had some incredible shotmaking and a lively atmosphere on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Wawrinka’s still not found his top game, but Kyrgios’ exit makes Stan the Man ever more likely to be a quarterfinalist.
-Serena Williams both passed Martina Navratilova and tied Roger Federer for career wins at Grand Slams, with 307. She’s now the winningest woman at Slams in tennis history, a claim that will hold for generations. Among active players, her sister Venus is next closest at 241, followed by Maria Sharapova at 183. No one’s passing Serena for a very long time. She goes for the overall record on Monday against Yaroslava Shvedova.
-Speaking of Venus, she had a 6-1, 6-2 win over Laura Siegemund to start the night session. Though the score exaggerates the level of domination, an uncomplicated win should help Venus’ fuel tank for the next round against Karolina Pliskova, who finally reached the second week of a Slam in beating Nastia Pavlyuchenkova.
-Andy Murray was rather brutal in an unexpectedly complicated four set win over Paulo Lorenzi. Lorenzi, 34, was coming off a five setter marathon over Gilles Simon, but Murray let him into the match with a heap of errors. Murray appeared to not feel right in the early going, though he escaped from the first set in a tiebreaker. After Lorenzi failed to serve out the second just as he had the first, it appeared Murray would get out in straights, except Murray was broken again to lose the set.
Although Murray settled down and settled in from that point on to win going away, it was far from convincing. He’s got a tough next match against Grigor Dimitrov, who always seems to play Murray tough. Dimitrov got him this year in Miami after choking away a sure win in Cincinnati last summer.
-Simona Halep survived by the slimmest margins over Timea Babos. Halep was being pushed around by an in-rhythm Babos, who found herself after losing a runaway first set. Babos easily took the second and led in the third until nerves got in the way and allowed Halep to get back on serve and then break again (on a double fault) for the match. Halep will have to be sharper on Monday against Carla Suarez Navarro.
-Juan Martin del Potro continued his march through the tournament with another straight setter, this time over David Ferrer. After trailing 5-2 in the first, del Potro lost just six games the rest of the way for a 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
-Del Potro’s next match will be a semi-blockbuster against Dominic Thiem. The young Austrian had his hands full with a streaking Pablo Carreno Busta, but overcame a clunker of an opening set by nabbing late breaks at the end of the next three sets to take a four set slugfest, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
-Just like Thiem, Kei Nishikori fell behind against Nicolas Mahut. Unlike Thiem, he had a fairly breezy next few sets. Though Mahut kept fighting, a hand issue widened the gap of talent that was present to begin with, as Nishikori dropped just five games the rest of the way. It also wasn’t too taxing on Nishikori, as Mahut’s style of play meant the match only went 2:19, faster than many three set matches.
-Ivo Karlovic ended Jared Donaldson’s run in straight sets. That leaves Ana Konjuh as the only teenager left in either draw. After being passed by peers like Belinda Bencic and Dasha Kasatkina, the 18 year old former top junior is into her first Round of 16 at a Slam. She plays Aga Radwanska in a rematch of their Wimbledon meeting where Konjuh rolled her ankle after stepping on a ball on the full run.
-Defending champs Martina Hingis and Leander Paes were taken out of the mixed draw in a 13-11 super tiebreaker by Hingis’ new women’s partner, Coco Vandeweghe, and Rajeev Ram.