Controversy seems to be the main criteria at the US Open and not surprisingly, Nick Kyrgios features in the latest sparked off by his seemingly lack of conviction which seems to be a habit of his tanking at some stage in his matches.
This time he was losing ad his attitude and body language certainly reflected that he didn’t care what was happening on curt against Pierre-Hugues Herbert resulting in a wave of booing raining down on the courtsThe umpire, the popular Mohamed Lahyani, decided to take action, climbing down from his seat and speak to the controversial Australian during a break between games.
Look. I wasn’t feeling good. I know what I was doing out there wasn’t good. I wasn’t really listening to him, but I knew it wasn’t a good look Nick Kyrgios
He was heard to tell the 30th seeded Kyrgios that he was trying to help him but to some people, it looked as if he was coaching which is of course against the rules.
Had he overstepped the mark? Should an umpire who is primarily there to keep the score and implement the rules, step down from his high chair to speak to a player?
Lahyani maintains that he couldn’t be heard from the chair because of the noise being created by the crowd but whatever he said to Kyrgios it worked. When the Aussie stepped back on court he was trailing by a set and 0-3 down but from that moment on, he went on to recover the break, level the match and storm into the third round and a meeting with Roger Federer, with a resounding 4-6 7-6(6) 6-3 6-0 victory.
“This was not his job,” Herbert said of Lahyani’s actions , adding that he the umpire should now be sanctioned in some way. “I don’t think he’s a coach, he’s an umpire, and he should stay on his chair for that.”
The incident is being reviewed by the Referee, the Chief of Umpires, and the Grand Slam Board but no explanation has been forthcoming from Lahyani (umpires are not allowed to speak to the media) though the Referee, Brian Earley explained that he left his chair “to make sure he could communicate effectively” with Kyrgios in a noisy arena.
According to Earley, the Lahyani said he wanted to check whether Kyrgios needed medical attention and warn the player that he “would need to take action” if the “seeming lack of interest in the match continued.”
Kyrgios himself laughed at the suggestion that he was receiving coaching.
“I mean, like, I don’t have a coach. I haven’t had a coach for, like, years. Of course, he wasn’t coaching me. Like, what are you talking about?” he asked of reporters.
“He said he liked me. I’m not sure if that was encouragement. He just said that it’s not a good look,” referring to his lacklustre attitude. “Look. I wasn’t feeling good. I know what I was doing out there wasn’t good. I wasn’t really listening to him, but I knew it wasn’t a good look.”
Kyrgios, as already mentioned, has been known to ‘tank’ at times and has been suspended and fined on several occasions in the past.
As Herbert declared: “Just sometimes he’s mentally not here.”
Federer, Kyrgios’ next opponent after defeating Benoit Paire 7-5 6-4 6-4, criticized Lahyani’s actions.
“I don’t know what he said. I don’t care what he said. It was not just about, ‘How are you feeling?’ ‘Oh, I’m not feeling so well.’ Go back up to the chair. He was there for too long. It’s a conversation. Conversations can change your mindset. It can be a physio, a doctor, an umpire, for that matter,” Federer commented. “That’s why it won’t happen again. I think everybody knows that.”
Two former U.S. Open champions Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic won at night,
Djokovic wasted a third-set match point and was pushed to a fourth before defeating American Tennys Sandgren 6-1 6-3 6-7(2) 6-2.
“I just lost it mentally,” Djokovic said about his problems in the third set, only the second set he has dropped so far this week. “Those things happen, I guess. I’m not happy with the way I lost that concentration and composure there.”
He added: “Credit to Tennys for playing well, fighting, a great attitude on the court.
“I thought I played very well for the first two-and-a-half sets and then I just lost it mentally, I got p****d off at something, myself, my game, I don’t know.
“I started talking to myself, to my team, to everyone else, but it’s in these kind of moments you learn lessons and hopefully I’ll move on a better player.”
Despite his successes over the last few months, Djokovic still believes that he is in the ‘work in progress’ stage with coach Marian Vajda.
“We are working daily on trying to perfect the game and put it together, but we both still feel that I have lots of room for improvement. That’s what’s exciting about this sport.”
Djokovic next faces Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who defeated Laslo Djere 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3.