The French Open came a week too early for Nick Kyrgios, with the Australian No.1 aborting his comeback plans to focus on Wimbledon.
Kyrgios made the call to withdraw from the clay-court grand slam on Monday, as ninth-ranked Venus Williams fell in straight sets to China’s Wang Qiang on the opening day.
It’s the first time she’s lost her opening match there since 2001.
Kyrgios, who had been racing the clock to overcome a chronic elbow injury, had not played a singles match for six weeks and returned home to Canberra last month for treatment.
His decision came the day before his scheduled first-time showdown with former Davis Cup teammate and doubles partner Bernard Tomic, who is now left without an opponent for the opening round.
The writing was on the wall on Saturday when the 23-year-old said he remained only “about 80 per cent” fit after teaming with American Jack Sock to land his maiden ATP doubles crown in Lyon.
He went behind closed doors for a practice session with Sock at Roland Garros on Sunday before pulling the pin.
“Unfortunately I have to withdraw from this year’s French Open,” he tweeted.
“Having consulted with my team and medical experts it is deemed too risky for me to step out and potentially play 5 sets on clay, especially as I have not played a singles match in nearly two months.
“I’ve worked hard to be ready and desperately wanted to play Roland Garros, which is very special to me but I literally ran out of time.
“A dramatic spike in load on my elbow could potentially put me back to square one and with the grass court season around the corner it is something I can not and will not risk.
“The good news is I’m finally pain free, working hard and enjoying my training and I’m looking forward to being back in singles action in Stuttgart.
“I’m sorry to those fans who bought tickets to watch me play but am also grateful for the continued love and support.”
Kyrgios had for the past week been mimicking his usual grand slam routine in a bid to test his elbow in championship conditions, practising for an hour on “match days” then playing sets and doing gym work.
He hit for two hours on down days as well as completing more gym sessions in an effort to increase the load on his serving arm.
But, fearing his suspect elbow wouldn’t last the five-set rigours of grand-slam tennis, Kyrgios finally abandoned his French Open plans.
The former All England Club quarter-finalist plans to remain in Paris to complete his rehab and practice on grass before contesting the Mercedes Cup in Germany from June 17 and then finalising his Wimbledon preparations at Queen’s.
Kyrgios’s scratching leaves Tomic to face a yet-to-be-determined “lucky loser” from qualifying, on Monday night.
After successfully qualifying to extend his unexpected clay-court winning streak to seven matches, Tomic has now in effect assumed Kyrgios’s protected position as the 21st seed in the men’s draw.
The world No.208 is guaranteed not to run into a seed until at least the third round.
Meanwhile, Venus Williams has became the French Open’s first major casualty as the seven-time grand slam winner fell to a straight-sets 6-4 7-5 defeat at the hands of Qiang.
The loss marked the first time the 2002 runner-up Williams has lost her opening match there since 2001, and the only time in her career she has lost consecutive grand slam opening round matches.