Kyrgios may have found his calling
Immature schoolboy one day, mastercoach the next.
After blaming an attractive female fan for ruining his concentration in a defeat against Roger Federer at the Laver Cup on Sunday, Nick Kyrgios was the ultimate teammate.
The Australian withdrew from the final day of the three-day team event between Team Europe and Team World citing a shoulder injury.
His decision followed the earlier withdrawal of his scheduled singles opponent Rafael Nadal, who pulled out on because of inflammation in his hand.
"Nick's shoulder has been bugging him. He was talking about it last night," Team World captain John McEnroe said.
"I don't know what to tell you other than we wanted him to come out 100 per cent and he didn't feel like he could."
American Taylor Fritz was named as Kyrgios's replacement and the late switch paid dividends as he pulled off an upset win against Dominic Thiem to give Team World a chance.
He was well-supported by the Australian, who showed off not only his abilities as a teammate but also a potential coach with some incredible pep talks.
"You also can't forget, you're running him around a lot," Kyrgios told Fritz in the second set. "In here it's tough to breathe … he's doing a lot of work. You're literally putting him on a string - that's why you got some loose errors that game from him on second serves.
"Don't underestimate what you're doing to him physically … you're doing unbelievable. Honestly, you're playing well. Stay in the moment, keep doing the things you've got to do, it's working."
It was a stark contrast to his immature commentary during his own match against Federer, when he attributed a mid-set dip to an off-court distraction.
"I lost concentration, I saw a really hot chick in the crowd. Like, I'm being jarringly honest - I'd marry her right now. Right now," Kyrgios said.
Team World had started the final day 7-5 behind but Fritz's 7-5 6-7 (3/7) 10-5 win over Thiem put the underdogs within touching distance of a shock success.
"That was such a big match for Team World to win, we really needed that," Fritz said.
"This has to be one of the biggest wins of my career. It means so much more when you're playing for other people as well."
ZVEREV PROVES DIFFERENCE AGAIN
Unfortunately it wasn't to be. Alexander Zverev sealed a dramatic victory for Europe by defeating Milos Raonic in the deciding singles match.
Federer had edged past John Isner to right the ship before the German downed Raonic 6-4 3-6 10-4 to deny John McEnroe's visitors their maiden triumph in the third edition of the event.
Instead, Bjorn Borg's Europe made it three wins from three since the inaugural staging in 2017.
"Team World came once again very close but we won the right points and had maybe a little bit of luck," said captain Borg.
"I'm very proud of my team, they did a hell of a job. I'm a very happy captain."
World number six Zverev took the first set courtesy of a break in game seven, with big-serving Canadian Raonic hitting back to force a super tie-break, saving four break points to serve out the second set.
But Zverev, selected by Borg ahead of Tsitsipas and Fabio Fognini for the first-ever Laver Cup decider, raced to victory as Raonic's serve deserted him.
The 22-year-old, who also clinched Europe's win last year by beating Kevin Anderson, fired a brilliant cross-court forehand past Raonic on his first match point.
"I've never played in something like that, it was unbelievable," said Zverev. "It's very special, especially playing in front of those guys and them trusting me to play the last singles game. This event is something I hope to play in every single year of my career."
Federer had to win a tense tie-break over world number 20 Isner to take three points in the penultimate match, smashing an ace on the final point to raise the roof in Geneva, after the American had somehow shot wide on the previous point with the court at his mercy.
"I'm thrilled that I was able to give something back to the team," said Federer. "Obviously to see Rafa on the sidelines after having to pull out with an injury, it's great camaraderie I feel."
Europe will defend their title in 2020 at TD Garden in Boston from September 25-27.