Nick Kyrgios claimed video games were ruining him and demanded a linesman be removed during a typically dramatic exit from the US Open in New York.
In a huge opportunity lost just as the draw had opened up for the mercurial talent, Kyrgios crashed out of the tournament with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 third-round loss to red-hot Russian Andrey Rublev.
Kyrgios spent most of the match complaining of being blinded by the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
He needed eye drops from the tournament physio just three games in.
“I throw the ball up in the air and I can’t see for, like, 30 seconds after,” he said, adding that he was guessing where the next ball was going to be when he tried to hit it.
But there was bigger trouble shortly after when a linesman reported Kyrgios for allegedly swearing.
The 28th seed wasn’t happy during a talking-to from the chair umpire, yelling at the linesman from his changeover chair: “whistleblower” before demanding Eva Asderaki to “get him off”.
“I said I can’t see a thing. That’s all I said,” Kyrgios insisted.
The tennis enigma then thundered down four consecutive aces in a spectacular 43-second game to force a tiebreaker, only to lose it as Rublev struck the first major blow.
“Gaming, bro. Call of Duty has ruined me,” Kyrgios moaned to his box about the first-person shooter video game early in the second set.
He then later claimed: “I don’t even want to be here, bro. I just wanna be home”.
Kyrgios didn’t have to wait long, blowing a 4-0 lead in the second-set tiebreaker and then dropping serve in the sixth game of the third set before submitting after one hour and 51 minutes.
“He played great tonight. Was super aggressive. I never felt comfortable,” Kyrgios said.
“That was just credit to him playing his game. Yeah, it was tough.
“I mean, I had chances. I just didn’t take them … nowhere near my best tennis, but it is what it is.”
While Rublev, who last month inflicted the quickest defeat on Roger Federer in 16 years, can look forward to a last-16 clash with Italian Matteo Berrettini, Kyrgios’s immediate playing fate remains uncertain.
The combustible Canberran is the subject of two ATP investigations into his conduct in Cincinnati and New York over the past three weeks.
He faces potential bans of up to 12 months for the two “major offences”, according to the ATP Rule Book.