Umpire continues at US Open despite Kyrgios pep talk

Umpire Mohamed Lahyani went “beyond protocol” in trying to help Nick Kyrgios but will continue to officiate at the US Open, tournament organisers have announced.

Umpire continues at US Open despite Kyrgios pep talk

By Eleanor Crooks

Umpire Mohamed Lahyani went “beyond protocol” in trying to help Nick Kyrgios but will continue to officiate at the US Open, tournament organisers have announced.

With Kyrgios trailing Pierre-Hugues Herbert by a set and 3-0 and showing little effort, Lahyani took the unusual step of climbing down from his chair and having a lengthy chat with the Australian, during which he was heard to say: “I want to help you. You are great for tennis. I know this is not you.”

Kyrgios subsequently turned the match around to progress to the third round and an annoyed Herbert said afterwards he felt Lahyani had overstepped the mark.

He was backed up by Roger Federer, Kyrgios’ next opponent, as well as a number of current and former players on social media.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash called on Lahyani to resign.

But a statement from the US Open read: “After a comprehensive review conducted by US Open officials, including US Open tournament director David Brewer, tournament referee Brian Earley and others, the US Open determined that chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani’s conduct during Thursday’s second-round match involving Nick Kyrgios and Pierre-Hugues Herbert went beyond protocol.

“Lahyani was advised to adhere to proper protocols in all matches that he officiates moving forward. Lahyani will continue to officiate during the 2018 US Open. His performance will continue to be evaluated, as will that of all chair umpires throughout the course of the US Open.”

The incident was the talk of Flushing Meadows, with Herbert claiming the match changed from that moment, although Kyrgios, who has been penalised for a lack of best effort in the past, insisted it had little effect.

The Australian said: “I’m not sure it was encouragement. He said he liked me. He just said that it’s not a good 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. It didn’t help me at all.”

Herbert had a different take, comparing Lahyani’s intervention to the on-court coaching allowed on the WTA Tour and saying: “I think this was not his job.”

The Frenchman was backed up by Federer, who said: “It’s not the umpire’s role to go down from the chair. You don’t go and speak like that in my opinion.

“He was there for too long. Conversations can change your mindset.”

The umpire received support from, among others, John McEnroe and Novak Djokovic, who said: “I understand why people, maybe Herbert, is upset because that has happened. A chair umpire should be neutral.

“But everybody who knows Mohamed knows 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, out of it.”

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