KUALA LUMPUR - Volatile Australian Nick Kyrgios fell short of reaching his second professional final with a loss out at the Malaysian Open semis on Saturday, but is eyeing a higher ranking as he seeks to put this season's controversies behind.
Kyrgios, whose temper and crude on-court comments have earned him a "bad boy" image, kept his emotions in check but fell in the semifinal to Feliciano Lopez, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5).
Kyrgios hammered 13 aces but struggled with the Spaniard's deft dropshots and volleys.
"I was looking good today, but he came up with some ridiculous volleys today and you have to appreciate something like that," said Kyrgios, who applauded some of Lopez's return winners on court.
"It was a great game of tennis and he did enough to come away with the win." Kyrgios made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the Australian Open this year, but his play has been overshadowed by his behaviour.
In August, he was fined for his now-infamous on-court comment to Stan Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup, a sexual slur concerning the Swiss player's girlfriend that triggered widespread condemnation.
He faces a possible suspension of 28 days if he commits further transgressions.
"I tend to get upset when something stupid happens, like when the linesman gets a line call wrong, but today was a really good game," he said.
Now at number 41 in the world, Kyrgios is eyeing a move up.
"I want to get into the top 32. That's my goal. I'm not the biggest goal-setter but I'm happy with my performance," he said.
His career-high ranking is 25, reached earlier this year.
"I'll just have to get back up and keep competing again," he said.
The only other final Kyrgios has reached was the Estoril Open in May, where he lost to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Top seed David Ferrer of Spain was to meet Germany's Benjamin Becker on Saturday in the other semifinal.