Novak Djokovic could only muster a total of 12 words after his straight-sets defeat to Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco late on Thursday that saw the world No2 crash out at the quarter-finals stage.
Djokovic, who typically plays in Dubai during this week on tour, made a last-minute decision to join the field in Mexico, in an effort to get his season back on track following a shock second-round exit to world No117 Denis Istomin at the Australian Open last month.
Speculation indicated he may have avoided Dubai to rebuild his confidence away from Andy Murray and Roger Federer, who headlined the action here in the Emirates.
But Djokovic was instead handed a tough draw in Acapulco, where he battled past Martin Klizan and Juan Martin del Potro in the opening two rounds before falling to Kyrgios 7-6 (9), 7-5 in what was their first career meeting against each other.
His Dubai draw would have been tamer than that but there’s no point in looking back at what could have been at this point.
Whether Djokovic went to Mexico for a change of scenery, or to avoid his biggest rivals, or any other reason, he certainly leaves there with more question marks about his form than he would have liked.
A very curt Djokovic spoke to the media after his defeat, that saw him suffer just one service break but it came at the worst time, while serving to stay in the match at 5-6 in the second set. Kyrgios broke the top seed at love to secure his 11th career top-10 victory.
Asked how he was feeling after the contest, Djokovic simply said: “Not great.”
Another reporter asked him if got annoyed by Kyrgios at certain points during the match, the Serb replied: “He has a big serve, he deserved to win. Congrats.”
And that was the end of it.
It’s difficult to judge Djokovic’s form based on that defeat to Kyrgios, whose rocket of a serve made him almost unplayable at times during the match, even against one of the best returners in the game.
Kyrgios admits his serve was the key to the victory.
“I think my serve is something I can always rely on,” said the 21-year-old Aussie, who fired 25 aces against Djokovic on Thursday night.
“I think I had a great serving day today. I know against these top guys you need to be able to hold your serve to give yourself your best chance. And I thought today I just competed well, competed for every point, I tried to put as much pressure as I could on his serve, even if I was unsuccessful sometimes, just getting a point here or there.
“I got pretty lucky at the end for the break but I think that was just the pressure of me holding pretty easily and I’m just really happy about getting through.”
Kyrgios is only the second man – alongside fellow Aussie Lleyton Hewitt – to beat Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in his first meeting against each one of them.
He owns a solid 11-17 win-loss record against top-10 opposition. While his commitment to the sport often comes into question and he served a three-week suspension end of last year for tanking a match against Mischa Zverev in Shanghai, Kyrgios rarely fails to turn up against the big guns on the big stage.
“I guess it’s what you dream of as a little kid, playing on these great venues against some of the greatest players in the world. I never really have a problem of getting up for a match like this, it’s more the small tournaments and the smaller matches. I just have to get better every day of finding motivation to come out here and play hard,” concedes the world No17.
Kyrgios was pleased with his focus throughout the one-hour, 47-minute showdown that was played in front of a buoyant crowd that was rallying behind Djokovic.
“I knew the crowd was going to be going for him, he’s a great guy, he’s done a lot of the game, and he’s a great player,” he Kyrgios.
“Of course the crowd is going to go for him, I’m the underdog, and obviously I’m a bit controversial so not many people will like me. That’s fine. I’m not going to change the way I play or who I am. I knew I had a chance to win tonight.”
He faces American Sam Querrey in the semi-finals on Friday while Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic face-off in the other last-four fixture.
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