By Matt Brown in Paris
New Zealand's second-ranked doubles player Artem Sitak has revealed he was sensationally dumped by his partner, less than two days before his first-round defeat at the French Open.
A day after the world No 36 and his American partner Austin Krajicek were ousted in straight sets on Tuesday, Sitak told the Herald his partner dropped a bombshell shortly after they arrived in Paris.
"It's been a stressful couple of days for me because two days ago Austin told me he wouldn't play with me on the grass and had a new partner [Dominic Inglot], and the French Open would be our last tournament," Sitak said.
"I had to scramble and stress over it and try to find a partner for the grass season which is very difficult at this moment because it is so close to it."
As a result, the 16th seeds didn't practise together before their 6-3, 6-4 defeat to Cheng-Peng Hsieh of Taipei and Indonesia's Christopher Rungkat.
Remarkably it's the third year in a row the Kiwi has had to look for a new doubles partner after the clay court season.
Last year Sitak was told 10 days before the tournament by Wesley Koolhof that the Dutchman would be joining forces with fellow Kiwi Marcus Daniell.
"Last year I had more time to find someone and found Divij Sharan who was about the same ranking as me, so I was set. But this was two days before we played and I had a lot less time to find someone, so I will be struggling a little bit for the grass," Sitak said.
Ironically it was Daniell who parted company with Sitak in 2017, opting to play with American Brian Baker at Wimbledon.
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"He [Krajicek] could have done it differently," Sitak said.
"But that's what happened and I have to move on and start afresh and do well on the grass, which is my favourite surface. I have won two ATP titles on grass and made the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.
"The main problem is nobody is available right now and the top doubles guys up to 60 or 70 [in the rankings] are all unavailable. They are paired up and I just have to do my best and come up with the best possible partner in the current situation."
Sitak's defeat topped a disappointing start at Roland Garros for New Zealanders, after 2017 French Open doubles champion Michael Venus and his South African partner Raven Klaasen suffered a shock first-round exit.
In blustery conditions, the sixth seeds were bundled out 6-3, 7-6 (4) in an hour and 18 minutes by India's Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian partner, Marius Copil.
Matt Brown is in Paris thanks to Emirates Airline