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Rusty Bedene outclassed, while injuries hinder Kyrgios

 

By Eleanor Crooks

Aljaz Bedene suffered a disappointing straight-sets loss to Andrey Rublev in the opening round of the US Open. The British No.3 was outplayed throughout by his young Russian opponent and slid to a 6-1 6-4 6-4 defeat in an hour and 42 minutes.

It has been an excellent season for Bedene but he went into the tournament having played just one match since Wimbledon after taking a break for his wedding to pop star girlfriend Kimalie.

He certainly looked rusty in the early stages against Rublev, at 19 one of the best young talents in the game.

Bedene turned things round after losing the first set 6-1 in their only previous meeting earlier this year, but this time Rublev, ranked five places below his opponent at 53, was far too consistent.

When Bedene, who has only ever won one main draw match at Flushing Meadows, dropped serve in the seventh game of the third set, the writing was on the wall.

The 28-year-old's defeat leaves Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie, both of whom were due to play their second-round matches later last night, as the only British players left in the singles draws.

Rublev moves through to a second-round meeting with seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios suffered more injury problems as he slumped to a first-round loss against fellow Australian John Millman.

Kyrgios hurt his right shoulder during the third set and, although he played out the rest of the match, it was to no avail as Millman won 6-3 1-6 6-4 6-1.

Kyrgios was clearly disconsolate at having another physical issue after playing so well in Cincinnati two weeks ago, beating Rafael Nadal before losing to Dimitrov in the final.

He complained of his right arm feeling dead after hurting it on a serve early in the third set. Kyrgios received treatment and a sympathetic ear from the trainer as he explained his frustration, but there was no solution to his problem.

The Australian angrily protested a code violation given after he swore in frustration at his physical issues. It was not heard by umpire Carlos Ramos but reported to him by a line judge.

Kyrgios then received a point penalty when, after dropping serve to lose the third set, he smashed his racket violently on the court. But ultimately his main concern was the state of his body.

Having failed to wedge the broken racket into his bag, Kyrgios walked off court holding it with head bowed and boos ringing in his ears, rather summing up his day.

The 22-year-old looked to have turned a corner earlier this season when he posted a series of impressive results but he has been unable to stay healthy over the past few months.

He aggravated a hip injury at Queen's Club in June and retired during three successive matches, including his opener against Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Wimbledon.

Kyrgios' defeat is potentially good news for Roger Federer, who struggled through a five-set win over Frances Tiafoe in round one and could have faced the Australian in the fourth round.

Belfast Telegraph

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