Nick Kyrgios‘ intensely bizarre mid-match pep talk from umpire Mohamed Lahyani has copped an absolute pasting from media pundits and tennis personalities alike, after the official left his chair during Kyrgios’ second round matchup against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
The wild and unusual incident came during the second set, with Kyrgios already one set down and trailing 3-0.
A clearly dejected and over it Kyrgios complained of not feeling well, which lead to Mo Lahyani leaving his chair to give Kyrgios a pep talk. On-court microphones caught the chair umpire delivering a motivational speech – bordering on something you’d only hear from a coach – to the Aussie.
Kyrgios won the second set after a pep talk from the chair umpire Mo Lahyani.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 30, 2018
A USTA rep told me it is already looking into Lahyani's conduct in this match.
Absurd scenes. #USOpen pic.twitter.com/6qTMaoqPQd
Among things Lahyani can be heard saying:— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 30, 2018
"I want to help you, I want to help you."
"I've seen your matches: you're great for tennis."
"I can see that; I know this is not you."
An umpire giving a pep talk that correlates to a reversal in a match is *insane*, even for tennis.
Journalist Ben Rothenberg, who has been biffing with Kyrgios on Twitter as of late, reported that the mics captured Lahyani telling Kyrgios things like “I want to help you” and “you’re great for tennis.” Kyrgios, for his part, remarked “I’ve had enough.”
Interestingly enough, Kyrgios’ fortunes almost immediately turned around after the encounter, and he stormed home to win the match in 4 sets, 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-0.
Weirder still, the US Open’s official statement on the incident paints a very different picture than the one that was very clearly caught on camera and microphone.
#USOpen puts out a statement on Kyrgios-Lahyani with its official version of events… which doesn’t align all that well with what was audible on microphones and why it was an issue. pic.twitter.com/0FySZcUs9D— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 30, 2018
Many called for Lahyani to be immediately yanked from the match, and officials are reportedly investigating his conduct. Through all of it, there’s no suggestion that Kyrgios did anything wrong; he didn’t ask for any of it to happen, after all.
Regardless, it’s another incredibly weird chapter in the intriguing and at times baffling career of Nick Kyrgios; a man who is very good at tennis, but has little desire or love for it.
Weird stuff, folks. Very weird stuff indeed.