Nick Kyrgios was thrashed in straight sets by American Taylor Fritz at the Cincinnati Masters this morning AEST as his running feud with umpire Renaud Lichtenstein and a potential knee injury took centre stage.
The Australian’s 6-3 6-2 loss was just his second defeat since the Wimbledon final and was heavily influenced by his war of words with the match official from the outset of the match.
Kyrgios was in one of those moods and seemed to be consumed by distractions around the court rather than the play on it. He complained about “standards” while pointing out problems with the court surface, fans walking in and out between points and flickering on-court screens.
He grew frustrated during the third game of the match as Fritz held for a 2-1 lead and started ranting towards the chair umpire about the distraction the malfunctioning screens caused.
“The highest level we play in and you guys can’t get something like that right. It’s embarrassing,” he said with a few expletives sprinkled around the message.
“Yesterday you couldn’t even clean this f—– thing up. I was drinking someone else’s water. Today the screens. What about tomorrow? Standards. Standards.”
Lichtenstein warned he would be penalised for swearing.
“Do something about it,” he told the umpire, who responded: “I told you, I called already. And I’m gonna call again and again and again.”
Kyrgios wasn’t finished there.
At the next change of ends, he was upset about fans moving around and talking during games, and took his complaints to the umpire once more.
“People f—– walking around mid-point,” he fumed.
To which the Lichtenstein responded: “Stop using the F-word or you will get a penalty every time. Sometimes you play with them moving, sometimes you don’t.”
“Is it normal for people to leave in the middle of the point?” Kyrgios said while criticising Lichtenstein’s ability to do his job
“Announce it, you have a microphone. What’s your job, to control the match? Why aren’t you controlling the match? Why don’t you do your job properly? If everyone did their job I would have no problem.”
The in-form Aussie’s full schedule over the past few months seemed to catch up with him throughout the round of 32 match.
He required a physio to attend his knee towards the end, leading to fears he may not be at his physical peak for the final grand slam of the year at Flushing Meadows.
“You can hear the boos around the stadium. They don’t feel like he gave it his best effort out there and we’re hoping the knee isn’t too serious but he’s got to show more,” former US Open finalist Greg Rusedski said on Amazon Prime’s coverage of the match.
“He’s improved out of sight but physically he’s got to get stronger.
“You’re worried about the knee physically. It’s a lot easier to do on grass courts than hard courts.”
Kyrgios has played 12 singles matches in August to date with his defeat to Fritz only his second during the month, having also fallen to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals of the Canadian Open.
In addition to his singles, the 27-year-old has been playing men’s doubles and won the Atlanta Open alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis before completing a historic Citi Open double with Jack Sock.
Kyrgios’ live ranking is currently No.26 and despite some believing the more action on court could be detrimental to getting through the US Open healthy and at peak fitness, US tennis great Andy Roddick had a different view regarding the Australian’s full playing schedule.
“To go through singles and doubles and not to tap out mentally or physically is a big, big sign,” Roddick said on the Tennis Channel.
“I think it puts him into the top two, maybe three, favourites for the US Open.”
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