NEW YORK (AP) — The chair umpire who climbed out of his seat to talk with Nick Kyrgios during a second-round match will continue to officiate during the U.S. Open.
A “comprehensive review conducted by a number of tournament officials” determined that chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani’s mid-match chat with Kyrgios went “beyond our protocol,” U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier told The Associated Press on Friday.
But Widmaier said that Lahyani would not be sanctioned, on account of his “exemplary track record as an international tennis official.”
“He now has a better understanding of what our protocols are and was informed that he needs to stick to those protocols for the rest of the tournament,” Widmaier said. “Each of his matches will be monitored.”
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Lahyani was assigned to umpire a men’s doubles match on Court 13 on Friday.
On Thursday, Kyrgios, a 23-year-old Australian, did not appear to be putting forth much effort while dropping the first set and falling behind 3-0 in the second against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. During a changeover, Lahyani left his chair — a rare sight in Grand Slam tennis — to speak to Kyrgios, leaning with hands on knees while saying, “I want to help you.”
The 30th-seeded Kyrgios wound up beating Herbert 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-0 and will face Roger Federer in the third round Saturday.
Widmaier said tournament referee Brian Earley and chief umpire Soeren Frienel were among those who “met with Mohamed several times following yesterday’s match” as part of the review.
Herbert said Thursday he thought Lahyani should be sanctioned in some way.
“This was not his job,” Herbert said. “I don’t think he’s a coach, he’s an umpire, and he should stay on his chair for that.”
During an occasionally confrontational and sarcastic exchange with reporters after the match, Kyrgios laughed at the suggestion that he had received coaching or a pep talk from Lahyani.
“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?” Kyrgios said.
“He said he liked me. I’m not sure if that was encouragement. He just said that it’s not a good look,” Kyrgios said. “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 has run into trouble in the past for not giving his all during matches, even drawing a fine and suspension from the ATP men’s tour in 2016.
As Herbert put it: “Just sometimes he’s mentally not here.”
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