Nick Kyrgios retires from Japan Open with knee trouble; Frances Tiafoe cruises into semis

Nick Kyrgios had been scheduled to pay third-seeded American Taylor Fritz, who will now advance into Japan Open's semi-finals.

Agence France-Presse October 07, 2022 16:38:11 IST
Nick Kyrgios retires from Japan Open with knee trouble; Frances Tiafoe cruises into semis

Nick Kyrgios of Australia waves as he withdrew from the singles match against Taylor Fritz of the U.S. in the Japan Open. AP

Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the Japan Open minutes before the quarter-finals on Friday with a sore left knee, calling the decision “heartbreaking” but saying it was for the best.

The mercurial Australian star had been scheduled to pay third-seeded American Taylor Fritz, who will now advance into Saturday’s semi-finals.

At a hastily announced press conference around the time the match was due to begin, world number 20 Kyrgios said he had “been playing amazing tennis all year” but it had been physically taxing.

“I actually was dealing with a bit of a knee issue around the US Open time, and got back home, probably didn’t take enough time off, to be honest, I went straight back into training,” he said.

“It’s heartbreaking. When the body lets you down, it’s not a good feeling.”

The 27-year-old, seeded fifth in Tokyo, called the decision “the smart option for my body” with several events left to play at this year, and promised to return to the Japanese tournament in 2023.

Kyrgios beat Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round on Thursday

Meanwhile, Jet-lagged Frances Tiafoe flew into the semi-finals in straight sets, clinching each with an ace to beat Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0, 6-4.

The fourth-seeded Tiafoe faces unseeded Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea in the last four on Saturday in Tokyo.

The American, who beat Rafael Nadal at the US Open on the way to his first Grand Slam semi-final, said he had been “solid from the start” of the 71-minute quarter-final.

“Great tennis today,” he said. “I was moving really well, I hit the ball really well from the back of the court.”

The 24-year-old Tiafoe, the world number 19, said he had been struggling to adapt to the Tokyo time zone.

“I’ve been really bad and jet-lagged, so I’ve probably been sleeping pretty early and waking up really early,” he said.

Kwon beat Spain’s Pedro Martinez 6-3, 6-0, and Tiafoe said it would be “cool” to play the South Korean — who he faced at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Kwon’s a great player. He’s been playing really well this week, so it’s going to be cool to play him, we practise sometimes in Florida.”

Tiafoe has been in the spotlight since stunning Nadal at Flushing Meadows and playing a starring role at the Laver Cup in London, where his Rest of the World Team beat Europe for the first time in the competition’s history.

He has said he hopes to inspire a new generation of Black tennis players.

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