Two weeks ago during his run to the Citi Open title in Washington DC, Nick Kyrgios had words with chair umpire Fergus Murphy, at one point calling him a “potato with legs and arms.”
On Wednesday night in Cincinnati, Kyrgios and Murphy were reunited. There would be no bromance kindled between the two, with the potato sentiment back at the forefront again. As the Australian’s frustrations mounted, eighth seed Karen Khachanov remained calm and composed while fireworks erupted around him, advancing to the third round of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory.
During the changeover at 5-4 in the second set, Kyrgios expressed dismay with the shot clock on-court, accusing Murphy of starting it too early and bringing Rafael Nadal’s pace of play into question. At the conclusion of the second set tiebreaker, Kyrgios was issued a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after cursing out Murphy for being the “worst ref in the game."
The former Cincinnati finalist then left the court for a ‘bathroom break’, despite the umpire requesting “not now.” Once inside the player tunnel, Kyrgios smashed two racquets before returning for the start of the third set. He was not issued a further penalty as Murphy was unable to get confirmation that officials had seen the incident take place off the court.
Kyrgios then incurred a time violation warning for gripping his racquet, as Khachanov patiently waited to serve at 15-0 after receiving the first point for the Australian’s prior penalty. Though Kyrgios held for 2-2, he lost the final four games and ended the match with a double fault. Like he did in DC, Kyrgios exited the stadium without shaking Murphy’s hand, adding a "you're a (expletive) tool" in his parting words.
Khachanov is coming off a semifinal showing in Montreal and will meet Lucas Pouille for a spot in the quarterfinals.