The third day of the Cincinnati Masters proved quite eventful with Nick Kyrgios enacting another one of his famous meltdowns as he crashed out in the second round of the Western & Southern Open to the eighth seeded Karen Khachanov.
It's really tough not only for me but for everybody. You have to try and handle it, then you can have chances to win the match. Always try to stay in there. Karen Khachanov
Russia’s Khachanov rallied for a 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-2 victory over the volatile Australian who kept up a running diatribe with umpire Fergus Murphy in the decider.
“He has a really great talent but sometimes the heads not in the right place,” Khachanov said later.
“It was a really difficult match for me – I had to really work it out, how to get the win.
“It’s really tough (playing Kyrgios), not only for me but for everybody. You have to try and handle it, then you can have chances to win the match. Always try to stay in there.”
The world number 27 Kyrgios is never far from controversy. He won the Washington event two weeks ago and in Montreal last week, complained at not being able to use a white towel during his match! In a more dangerous incident, he threw a chair in Rome where he was defaulted.
This time the red mist descended when he lost the second set, received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct for verbal abuse and then decided to have a comfort break after sitting down with Murphy warning he had no time.
This Kyrgios ignored and carrying two rackets, walked off court where he promptly destroyed both of them before returning to his chair.
He continued to nag at the umpire and on several occasions was heard to curse at him.
Throughout the third set Khachanov retained his cool and concentration, breaking Kyrgios for 4-2 and then romping home with Kyrgios handing a match point with a double fault which he saved only to give him another match point with a second double fault which was converted.
He refused to shake Murphy’s hand on the way off court and tossed his shoes and other soft articles into the crowd, handing his broken rackets to young fans before walking off.
At one point in the drama, Kyrgios stood at the back of the court, wrapping his racket grip, which Murphy kept telling him to get ready to receive and then hit him with a time violation.
Kyrgios meanwhile told Khachanov to go ahead and serve, but the Russian declined until all was in place on the Australian side of the net.
In other action Alexander Zverev remains winless in Cincinnati in five appearances, this time losing to the 19-year-old qualifier from Serbia, Miomir Kecmanovic 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 delivering 20 double faults in the process.
“It means a lot because I also broke into the Top 50 today,” Kecmanovic said. “So it’s a really special moment for me. I’m really happy that I was able to play the way I did. I worked a lot, I practised a lot. To see everything come together and happen, it’s really special.
“I definitely just tried to go for everything. As I said, I had nothing to lose, really. He was the favourite, and it obviously helped me that he didn’t serve as well as he does usually.
“I tried to stay calm. I tried to just use my chances and thankfully it paid off.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas also went down losing to Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(6).
“It was a great match, he is such a good player,” Struff said. “I managed to win in Barcelona, so I knew I had a good chance. I had a chance to serve it out at 6-4 5-4, but he broke back and that’s the quality he has. The quality I had today was coming back from that. I was telling myself, ‘I have to go for it, otherwise I won’t win.’
“I’ve been working hard with my team, on my fitness, and it’s all finally paying off and I’m playing with greater consistency.”
Another early casualty was Kei Nishikori who was definitely under the weather, a circumstance which his countryman Yoshihito Nishioka took full advantage of for his first Top 10 win with a 7-6(2) 6-4 result.
“I was so excited to play with him because he’s the hero of Japanese tennis. I couldn’t sleep yesterday,” said Nishioka. “I was watching him when I was a junior and learning many things from him. I just was trying my best against my hero. I’m very happy today, but most happy about playing with him.”
“Good to see he’s getting stronger, growing up. You know, I think he has a lot of chance to get more of his ranking up,” the 29-year-old Nishikori said.
“He was already good. He has great legs. Getting a lot of balls back. He has good defence,” Nishikori added of Nishioka.
In other results, former semi-finalist Stan Wawrinka lost to qualifier Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4. while David Goffin advanced over Guido Pella 6-1 7-5.
Daniil Medvedev, Roberto Bautista Agut and Richard Gasquet were also winners.