Tennis: Tears flow, jeers ring out

A flustered Rafael Nadal after losing a point against Viktor Troicki. The Spaniard, who has dropped to world No. 5, lost 3-6, 6-7 (3-7) but vowed to get his game in shape during the close season.
A flustered Rafael Nadal after losing a point against Viktor Troicki. The Spaniard, who has dropped to world No. 5, lost 3-6, 6-7 (3-7) but vowed to get his game in shape during the close season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Battling Nadal and fiery Kyrgios both lose but elicit vastly different fan reaction

SHANGHAI • A grim-faced Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Shanghai Masters yesterday, as Nick Kyrgios departed to boos after perhaps the most spectacular meltdown of his volatile tennis career.

Nadal lost 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in the second round to Viktor Troicki, his first defeat by the Serb and just the latest setback for the fading Spanish great.

Chinese fans brandished pictures of Nadal - including one of him in his underwear - but some were left in tears as the 14-time Grand Slam champion was well beaten.

Afterwards Nadal, now 30 and with a catalogue of injuries, vowed to return to top form by next season, mainly by putting the zip back in his forehand and movement.

"I know what I have to do and I'm going to do it," scowled Nadal, who has dropped to fifth in the world after a misfiring season.

"I've got 21/2 months until next season starts so I have got 21/2 months to put myself at the level I want to be. And I'm confident I'm going to do it."

The quest to get back to top level, however, will be a tough one. In fact, the top four in the world rankings currently is missing both Nadal and Roger Federer (seventh) for the first time since 2003, as signs grow that a new era is evolving.

US Open winner Stan Wawrinka is third in the world behind Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, and Japan's Kei Nishikori is fourth.

Earlier, Australia's Kyrgios lashed out at fans and insisted "I don't owe them anything", after he was booed off court in tempestuous scenes at Shanghai's Grandstand court.

The hot-headed world No. 14 clashed with the chair umpire and a heckler and admitted not trying after he lost 3-6, 1-6 to German qualifier Mischa Zverev, the world No. 110.

Kyrgios was slapped with a code violation for an audible obscenity and was warned to play properly after he patted a child-like serve into his opponent's court.

He later admitted "taking the easy way out" after he gave up on several points during the match, including one Zverev serve which he walked away from before it had landed.

But when asked whether he could understand why fans were upset, he shot back: "Not at all.

"I feel like if they knew what they were talking about they'd be on the tennis court and being successful, as well.

He added: "I'm good at hitting a tennis ball at the net. Like, big deal. I don't owe them anything."

Wawrinka, by contrast, had little trouble as he defeated Britain's Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round.

In a later match yesterday, Murray, seeking to wrest the world No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic by the year-end, moved fluently past America's Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2 .

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Tears flow, jeers ring out'. Print Edition | Subscribe