It takes something special to be surprised by a Nick Kyrgios meltdown nowadays, but his latest effort ranks among his most explosive.
- Nick Kyrgios swore at chair umpire Fergus Murphy and refused to shake his hand after losing at the Cincinnati Masters
- Kyrgios was initially unhappy about the countdown clock between his serves, and took his rage out on Murphy
- At one point asked for a bathroom break, only to smash two racquets in a hallway before returning to court
Kyrgios’s second round match at the Cincinnati Masters, against Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov, started like any other, but ended with him calling the umpire a “f***ing tool” and spitting in his direction in an outburst ESPN commentators described as “disgusting”.
Along the way there were references to Rafael Nadal, a fume at time penalties he never actually received, and a very brief “bathroom break” that came at the cost of two racquets.
In the end, Kyrgios lost the match to Khachanov 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (4/7), 2-6, but the result was only a very small part of the story.
Kyrgios’s mood began to sour at the end of the first set when, while turning around a 5-3 deficit to win in a tiebreak, he complained of a lower leg injury and called for a trainer — Kyrgios could be heard saying he would have been “done” had he not ended up winning the set.
Things went downhill quickly from there.
Seemingly disturbed by the countdown clock between points — used to ensure players don’t take too long to serve — Kyrgios began to unload on umpire Fergus Murphy.
Regularly referring to himself as “the fastest player on tour”, Kyrgios randomly began to bring the notoriously slow Nadal into the argument — “what sport does Rafa play? Not tennis,” Kyrgios said.
Even though Murphy never penalised Kyrgios for taking too long between points, he became the focus of the Australian’s ire.
“Why do I always have problems with this potato in the chair?” Kyrgios asked of the Irish umpire.
“Every time, it’s always him. He’s a spud.”
Visibly angry and distracted, Kyrgios continued to unleash during the change of ends in the second set tiebreak, which he would go on to lose.
“I don’t understand how you’ve still got a gig to be honest. It’s unreal that he’s still got a job,” he said of Murphy.
By the time the third set came around, the actual tennis was a sideshow.
Kyrgios was officially given a code violation between the second and third sets for swearing at the umpire.
“The worst ref ever. The worst ref in the game. Every single time I play he’s doing some stupid shit. Every time. Every single time.”
Kyrgios went to the bathroom with two healthy racquets, and returned with two broken ones. (ESPN)
Kyrgios then requested a bathroom break, which the umpire allowed him — but he never made it to the bathroom.
Instead, Kyrgios walked into an empty hallway, smashed two racquets into the ground, turned around and came back to the court.
The linesman who accompanied Kyrgios on his brief sojourn reported the outburst to the umpire, who did not punish him any further.
His head gone, Kyrgios took a seat next to the court and began to regrip his racquet, despite Murphy urging him to return to the court.
“I’m gripping my racquet, bro. Tough shit,” Kyrgios said.
Eventually he did take his place on the court, but continued to adjust his grip. Murphy finally did give him a time violation, but Kyrgios insisted Khachanov was free to serve, even if Kyrgios was hardly paying attention.
“I was in a returning position. Just because you can’t play tennis. I’m standing in a return position,” he said.
Kyrgios played out the rest of the match with a minimum of effort, blasting serves and smacking some quite incredible ground strokes, but inevitably losing the third set comfortably.
After shaking hands with Khachanov, Kyrgios turned towards the umpire.
“You’re a f***ing tool, bro,” he said, before spitting in the umpire’s direction and refusing to shake his hand.
Kyrgios then dished out some souvenirs — including a smashed racquet — to some kids in the crowd before making his way off court, though that is unlikely to be the last he hears of this quite incredible display.