Nick Kyrgios first Australian to bow out of French Open

Nick Kyrgios' time will come, but at least at Roland Garros, it will not be quite yet. The teenager, who opened his grand slam account with an exhilarating opening round upset of former world No.8 Radek Stepanek 12 months ago, was Australia's first French Open casualty of 2014, beaten 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 by Canadian Milos Raonic on Sunday.

The 19-year-old, hailed as a brilliant future prospect - and replacement for Bernard Tomic as the likely long-term successor to Lleyton Hewitt as Australian No.1 - made a brief two-hour stay, departing after what had been billed as the youngest man in the draw against the youngest in the top 10. It was the Canberran's fourth grand slam main draw, for his second first-round loss.

As the only Australian to figure in the truncated day one schedule at Roland Garros, the fact that Kyrgios had been upgraded from the distant outside court, on which he upset Stepanek at his debut major last year, was a measure both of the high quality of his eighth-seeded opponent and his own growing reputation as an exciting talent on the rise.

Kyrgios pushed the Rome Masters semi-finalist at times, but struggled to blunt a serve that produced 27 of the 31 aces served in the opening match on Court Suzanne Lenglen. It was particularly damaging in the second set tiebreak, in which Kyrgios won the first point and Raonic the next seven.

Both men have powerful games built around thumping serves and forehands, but if Kyrgios is the superior athlete, and a former junior basketballer with the Globetrotterish between-the-legs bounce before serving, flamboyant shot-making and confident swagger, Raonic is the more seasoned competitor in the intensely competitive environment that is the men's game.

Indeed, having finally earned a service break to lead 4-2 in the second set, Kyrgios handed it straight back with a loose seventh game. He realised the significance of the lapse in concentration, bouncing his racquet fiercely into the red clay and earning a code violation warning.

As he faced the might of Raonic's delivery, Kyrgios said he was disappointed with his own serve, as well as his inability to make the most of his opportunities in the first and - particularly - second sets.

"I had numerous chances where I could have taken them and taken that second set,'' Kyrgios said. "Who knows? Would have been much closer than the scoreline says.''

The positive, he says, was that "I was creating chances against a top-10 player, and I think that's always (building) confidence, you're going to walk away confident. I didn't back up well after my first round last year. You know, I was feeling fine physically out there, so I can take away that I've done a lot more hard work as well.''

Having suffered from wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries in the past eight months, and been sidelined for six months after his dramatic second-round loss at the Australian Open, remaining healthy remains the Canberran's main ambition, for now.

"I think just getting better, feeling stronger, I think that's my main priority. Being young versus the older guys, they're so much stronger and really used to backing up matches day after day. I don't think I have that quite yet.

"But I'm always improving. I think I'm miles better than I was. Obviously my serve is usually my strength, but today was probably not a great serving day. Sometimes that's the way it goes.''

Still, with close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis, the 2013 Australian Open boys champion and recent practice partner of Roger Federer appeals as Australia's best clay-court prospect, moving and sliding comfortably on the surface that has never been a favourite of his Davis Cup teammates Hewitt and Tomic.

Both are among the eight Australians still to play their matches in an opening round stretched over three days, Hewitt against unseeded Carlos Berlocq, and Tomic against No.12 Richard Gasquet.

The story Nick Kyrgios first Australian to bow out of French Open first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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