Despite television footage and audio capturing the Australian hot-head telling his courtside box he'd quit after the first set in an apparent protest over the decisions of chair umpire Fergus Murphy, Kyrgios claimed he was both injured and ill.
Kyrgios still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals as he is 15th in the Race standings with several tournaments remaining to close the gap on those in front. "The next chapter of the Nick Kyrgios career unfolds".
Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios kept it real after losing to Spain's Rafa Nadal in the China Open final.
Meanwhile, in the opening round, 12th seed John Isner saved a match point at 6-5 down in his deciding-set tie-breaker with Dusan Lajovic, winning three points on the bounce to advance 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (8-6).
Johnson, the officials and spectators on the outside hard court looked on in stunned disbelief when Kyrgios decided enough was enough.
Hours later Kyrgios, whose undoubted talent has often been betrayed by his quickfire temper, made a statement on Twitter apologising.
He hit a lowpoint in Shanghai a year ago when he similarly left the court to jeers, having rowed with the crowd and appeared to give up in his match against Germany's Mischa Zverev. He was consequently suspended.
The 31-year-old saved two match points in his nervy opener against Frenchman Lucas Pouille, but was never really in trouble as Kyrgios's final hopes evaporated in acrimony.
Kyrgios lost the next point and then started to complain and curse, which earned him an audible obscenity code violation.
"I mean, I obviously didn't react professionally".
"What is he doing?" Kyrgios had the control and would have finished the play easily had there not been a wrong call.
"You think this place could not get any more ridiculous, shit like this happens", Kyrgios then told his courtside entourage.
Johnson wrapped up the set and Kyrgios decided he had had enough, shaking the hands of his opponent and the umpire - though not looking him in the eye - and packing his bag and leaving.