-- NEW YORK -- A somewhat repentant Nick Kyrgios was beaten by No. 3 seed Andy Murray in the US Open last night, after which he said he's "moved on" from the controversy that has shadowed him since the incident involving Stan Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup.
But he demonstrated last night that the spectacular game that brought him notoriety long before those salacious remarks he made about Wawrinka and his former girlfriend has not changed at all. Launching spectacular winners and errors, Kyrgios played a supremely entertaining but at times stunningly immature match, losing in four sets to Murray, 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
"I'd like to think that I'm going to learn from it," Kyrgios said of the Montreal incident during his press conference following his match. Considering the blowback that has trailed him since those contentious events, he added: "I think I have [learned from it]. I'm on the right path. I don't think any of us in this room right now were perfect at 20. Speak up if you were."
Few would accuse Kyrgios of perfection, but even fewer would doubt that he's already one of the most mercurial, compelling figures in tennis. He thrives on drama, and has the flair of a born showman.
During the match with Murray, he hit shots between his legs (on one occasion, near the net while facing it -- a kind of reverse 'tweener). He also bounced his racquet sky high off the court, received a warning for uttering an "audible obscenity," hit a number of leaping drop shots, fired serves like barely visible to the naked eye, launched into long, audible monologues, argued with the chair umpire -- and more.
When Kyrgios lost the first set, he stalked to the chair and sat down. He sipped a pink energy drink, then tossed the half-filled bottle over his shoulder and, fluffing his towel into a pillow, tried to go to sleep.
"What was going through your mind?" he was asked.
"Just taking a nap," he replied. "It's good for you."
Even Murray, the straight-laced Scot that he is, was obliged to admit that it's impossible not to get sucked into the Kyrgios show when you're playing against him, despite the commonly accepted wisdom of focusing exclusively on the events and conditions on your own side of the net.
"You start getting distracted by that stuff, it's easy for you to lose your concentration," Murray said after the win. "But almost all the matches that I've played with him, there have been a couple points where I have laughed on the court or smiled because some of the stuff is funny. I mean, when he let go of the racquet today after the forehand, I mean, that only happens to him. [The racket] Went into the crowd."
Kyrgios pays a heavy price for his antics and flair. His emotional nature and risk-taking style almost always translate to significant lapses in concentration, efficiency, or prudent shot selection. But he's not about to suppress his natural temperament.
"It's always been like that," he said. "I've always been an emotional person on the court. And, yeah, I like going for shots that aren't high percentage. I just got a really good self-confidence. Obviously I've had some really big wins. I don't think I'd be able to have those wins if I didn't have that sort of confidence by me."
In other words, there are some things you just never want to move on from.