Umpire’s pep talk to Kyrgios during match puts USTA in the dock

Dean Simpson
September 4, 2018

The career of Nick Kyrgios - who has been criticized for his attitude and on-court behavior in the past - is under renewed scrutiny after the Australian tennis star received a "pep talk" from the umpire during his match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the U.S. Open on Thursday.

With Kyrgios trailing Pierre-Hugues Herbert by a set and 3-0 and showing little effort, Lahyani took the unusual step of climbing down from his chair and having a lengthy chat with the Australian, during which he was heard to say: "I want to help you. "It didn't help me at all". This isn t you. He said he liked me - I don't know if that's encouragement.

Organisers said on Friday that Lahyani "went beyond protocol" but will be allowed to continue officiating. But I get what he was trying to do. "He (Kyrgios) behaves the way he behaves and then you as an umpire take decision on the chair - do you like it, or you don't". But you don't go and speak like that, in my opinion. "I wasn't really listening to him".

"I am even more upset against the statement of the USTA that is clearly taking us for fools", he said. It was not just about How are you feeling? "We all know I had that moment in Shanghai where the referee said the same thing - "It's not good for the integrity of the sport, doesn't have a good look", said Kyrgios. He was there for too long.


"It s a conversation". While people called for Lahyani to be yanked immediately from the match, the statement refused to address whether the umpire was in the wrong or what would happen next to address the matter. That s why it won t happen again. "I spend the least possible time here on site because that takes energy away", Zverev said. Kyrgios himself defended Lahyani after the match as he said: "He was just concerned about how I was playing".

However, Lahyani, a well-experienced umpire on men's ATP Tour and Grand Slam circuit, escaped any sanction and will be allowed to continue officiating at Flushing Meadows because of his "exemplary track record as an worldwide tennis official", a United States Tennis Association spokesman said.

"But everybody who knows Mohamed knows he's quite different from others".

"If he makes a mistake, I think he should be also punished. But he's never played me in best of five either".


It all seemed like an impromptu intervention for the mercurial Kyrgios, right out there on Court 17 at Flushing Meadows, and it raised questions about whether Lahyani overstepped his duties as someone who's primarily there to keep score and keep order. Lahyani told Kyrgios that, if he was feeling ill, that the tournament could provide medical help. "I think everybody knows that". I didn't see what happened.

"They can tell him from the chair". I umpired thousands of matches. I don't have a coach and haven't had one for years, of course he wasn't coaching me.

Herbert said Thursday he thought Lahyani should be sanctioned in some way.

Totally revitalised, Kyrgios dropped just three games in the final two sets, sealing victory after two hours and 47 minutes.


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