Brisbane International defending champion Nick Kyrgios was knocked out of the running when he lost to Jeremy Chardy. To make matters worse, he is also set to topple out of the world’s top 50 for the first time in four years.
However, the 23-year-old reckoned he couldn’t care less, backing himself as a dangerous floater in Melbourne.
France’s Jeremy Chardy pulled off a 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-3 boilover to stun the Australian player.
The defeat is expected to plummet Kyrgios’ ranking from 35 to 52 ahead of the season-opening grand slam.
The last time he was ranked so lowly was in January 2015 at 53. The dual grand slam quarter-finalist is now vulnerable to a tough draw against a top ranked seed in Melbourne.
Not that Kyrgios was going to lose any sleep over it.
“I honestly could not care less,” he said when asked about his ranking. “I feel like no matter who I play, I’ve got a fair shot if I play the right style of tennis and I’m feeling good. But at this age, I’m not even thinking about it.”
Kyrgios’ Brisbane preparation was disrupted by a spider bite on his left foot that hospitalised him in hometown Canberra over Christmas. He also had his right wrist iced at the post-match interview table.
But the former Australian No. 1 insisted he simply needed more practice time to be primed for a Melbourne assault. In fact, he saw his early Brisbane exit as a good thing for his Australian Open campaign.
His next scheduled event is the FAST4 Showdown in Sydney from January 7 also featuring world No. 2 Rafael Nadal.
“My focus shifts now to Australian Open. I’m just glad to have a couple days now just to chill out, get my body recovered and just go again,” he said. “I have the FAST4 in Sydney. I’m not too concerned. I know that I probably have to go and hit some balls but I have got plenty of time.”
Nick Kyrgios opted to switch off from the sport in the pre-season, hitting the basketball court rather than the tennis court as he soaked up time with family in Canberra. His lack of hitting came back to bite him when the spider struck, ensuring he hardly touched a racquet before his Brisbane title defence.
“Every time I have a rally it feels foreign. I don’t really know what I’m doing,” Kyrgios said.
But asked if he had any regrets, he said: “No. I had an unbelievable pre-season. I loved every bit of it being home and being away from the sport. But now I got to get to the practice court, hit a lot of balls.”