Tennis

Nick off! Kyrgios to be usurped as Australia’s No.1 player

NICK Kyrgios’ two-and-a-half year reign as Australian No.1 will come to an end next week with Alex de Minaur set to assume the mantle of the country’s top tennis player.

A second round 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-1) loss to Richard Gasquet at the Japan Open on Thursday night has effectively sealed Kyrgios’s demise with the 23-year-old slated to drop from No.27 to No.37 in the world.

Kyrgios had been defending points from a final appearance at the same time in Beijing last year.

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While there can be rankings variations from other results on the tour, de Minaur will have more points than Kyrgios and must start next week ranked higher.

The 19-year-old is projected to move from No.38 to a career-high No.33 despite finishing short of another miracle comeback in a three-set loss to world No.15 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Japan Open second round.

The last time Kyrgios wasn’t flying the flag as the country’s top player was on March 21, 2016 when Bernard Tomic was ranked No.21 and Kyrgios 26. To rub it in further for Kyrgios, he’ll drop to Australian No.3 with US Open quarter-finalist John Millman, who is projected to be ranked No.34 next week, slotting into No.2.

Kyrgios struggled to lift in both the tiebreakers on Thursday while de Minaur couldn’t get over the line in third set of his match.

Greek young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas served for the match at 6-3 5-3 against de Minaur who launched yet another stirring comeback to win four consecutive games and level the encounter.

Saving two match points and fending off a run of 12 break points eventually took its toll however as Tsitsipas broke early in the third and dominated from there on to finish off the match 6-3 5-7 6-1.

Jan-Lennard Struff and Kevin Anderson were other second round winners in Tokyo on Thursday.

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