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Outrage at umpire's Kyrgios mid-match 'pep-talk'


Nick Kyrgios.  Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios. Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios. Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The officiating at this year's US Open continues to make waves. After Alize Cornet's shirt-changing controversy and Fernando Verdasco's coaching row, Nick Kyrgios received a bizarre pep-talk yesterday from the chair umpire on his court.

Kyrgios was trailing his opponent, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, by a set and a break when Mohamed Lahyani stepped down from the chair and stood in front of him in the manner of a coach making an on-court visit.

"I want to help you," said Lahyani, as he exhorted Kyrgios to give more effort and live up to the fans' expectations.

Admittedly, Kyrgios' tepid performance up to that point had been so unsatisfactory that boos had begun to be heard around the court.

But most tennis folk would argue that Lahyani's first responsibility is to ensure an even contest, rather than to worry about the spectating experience.

Soon after Lahyani's intervention, Kyrgios began to play with more intensity. He broke back and then gathered momentum as he surged to a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory.

In his on-court interview, Kyrgios then explained: "He (Lahyani) was concerned about how I was playing. He was saying, 'Nick, are you OK?' I said, 'Yeah, everything is fine.' My level raised a lot. It was a lot of fun playing in front of you guys again."

Sources at the US Open said that they would investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, Donna Vekic - the Croatian player who was the subject of a crude Kyrgios remark three years ago - posted a tweet that said, "Didn't know umpires were allowed to give pep-talks."

Kyrgios is prone to being drawn into arguments on social media and he could not resist responding to Vekic's comment.

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"Haha," he wrote, "Ironic coming from someone who gets on-court coaching every week of the year and also out of the US Open."

Meanwhile, Rafa Nadal eased into the third round with a regulation 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over unseeded Vasek Pospisil.

A fresh-looking Nadal, whose first round match was cut short after opponent David Ferrer retired with a calf injury midway through the second set, started brightly against the Canadian and never looked back.

The top-seeded Spaniard wrapped up the opening set in 35 minutes after breaking early to go 3-0 up as Pospisil, ranked 88th in the world, struggled to settle into a serving rhythm.

The Canadian rallied briefly in the second set but the world No 1 broke back immediately and went on to win four games in a row to seize complete control.

Elsewhere, Venus Williams beat Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5 in the women's second round to set up a third-round match against her younger sister Serena.

Venus, seeded 16th, powered through the first set but appeared to lose energy toward the end of the second in broiling conditions inside the newly-built Louis Armstrong Stadium.

"I felt the energy, definitely," Venus said. "That love-40 game at four all was not looking good and you guys really got me through that."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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