WATCH—Daily Mix talks Nick Kyrgios controversy at the US Open:
NEW YORK—Roger Federer is confident there will be no repeat of the umpire "pep talk" for Nick Kyrgios during his third-round meeting with the Australian at the US Open.
There was controversy in Kyrgios's second-round match when chair umpire Mohamed Layhani climbed down from his chair and spoke to Kyrgios, who was down a set and 3-0, and appeared to be giving little effort.
"I want to help you," Layhani was heard saying by cameras, and according to the USTA, twice told Kyrgios there was a trainer if required and reminded him of the ‘best efforts' rule.
WATCH—Tennis Channel Live discusses the Kyrgios controversy:
Kyrgios came back to win the match in four sets against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
"It's not the umpire's role to go down from the chair," said Federer. "But I get what he was trying to do. He [the player] behaves the way he behaves. You as an umpire take a decision on the chair, do you like it or don't you like it. But you don't go and speak like that, in my opinion.
"It was not just about, 'How are you feeling,' 'Oh, I'm not feeling so well.' Go[ing] back up to the chair. He was there for too long. It's a conversation."
Federer alluded to the reaction it had received when asked about a potential repeat in his next meeting.
"That won't happen," he said.
Herbert said Kyrgios had been "another player" following the talk with the umpire, and despite saying that Layhani was a "very good umpire" in general, he was critical of the conversation both in press and in a statement issued on social media. He was also critical of the initial statement released by the USTA, which described events in general terms.
Kyrgios denied the talk had changed his performance, noting he had gone 5-2 down before turning the encounter around, and said umpires had also spoken to him in similar fashion in previous tournaments in Shanghai and a couple of weeks ago at Cincinnati.
Novak Djokovic suggested the umpire had been attempting to warn Kyrgios in an non-intimidating way, though also acknowledging Herbert's reaction.
"Obviously it's understandable. A chair umpire should be neutral," said Djokovic. "But everybody who knows Mohamed knows, as well, he's quite different from others. He's always very positive, smiles, tries to bring that energy to the court. He likes to make a show, as well.
"I haven't seen it, as I say. From I what heard, knowing Mohamed, I think he has done it in a friendly way. He didn't want to probably sound that he's threatening Nick."
Former No. 1 Andy Roddick also criticized the umpire's move, but cautioned against a severe reaction.
I hope it was apparent that he was wrong overall. Me thinking he’s a good person doesn’t equal me thinking it was good judgement— andyroddick (@andyroddick) August 31, 2018
There was a less friendly exchange when Donna Vekic, who Kyrgios referenced during on-court comments about her boyfriend Stanislas Wawrinka a few years ago, mentioned the incident on social media.
Didn’t know umpires were allowed to give pep talks .. ???? https://t.co/82k0cQvwZM— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) August 30, 2018
Kyrgios initially had a hostile reply, but followed with a more apologetic response.
If at first you don’t succeed…fail twice. pic.twitter.com/ygqI1vOJqG— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 30, 2018
I shouldn’t have tweeted so quickly after the match. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but I can assure you it wasn’t coaching. https://t.co/hvlwPyzC0E— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) August 30, 2018
Alize Cornet, who was involved in her own controversy during the tournament when she changed her shirt around on court, called the umpire's move "unfair" for fellow French player Herbert.
The USTA announced this morning that a review had found Layhani "went beyond protocol," and had been "advised to follow all protocols" for the rest of the tournament. The longtime umpire was back in the chair this morning, the day following the Kyrgios match.
No sanction has been announced.
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