US Open Umpire Mohamed Lahyani has been condemned after he appeared to give a pep talk to a losing player during a match.
Australian Nick Kyrgios was trailing Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4 3-0 at the time, with Kyrgios seemingly displaying a clear lack of effort.
During a break in play, the umpire climbed down from his chair and approached the player, giving him what looked like a motivational speech.
The quotes are quite remarkable:
I want to help you. You are great for tennis. I know this is not you.
I’ve seen your matches: you’re great for tennis.
Nick, I know this is not you.
Amazingly, the world number 30 would recover from this perilous position and go on to claim a victory in four sets.
He would later claim in his press conference that his poor play was a result of the New York heat.
The incident has received mixed reactions from within the tennis world. Some, including Kyrgios' opponent, have claimed that the umpire overstepped the mark.
"I don't think he has to go down and take the position of a coach like you can see on the WTA Tour," says Herbert of Lahyani's intervention. "It's not his job."
— Mike Dickson (@Mike_Dickson_DM) August 30, 2018
This has got to stop. It’s just wrong and brings the game into disrepute.
Umpire Lahyani is a great guy and a fine official but there is no way he should have come down from the chair to speak with Kyrgios. If he is self destructing it is not the umpire’s job to calm him down. https://t.co/LtjZ0oV0rz
— Andrew Castle (@AndrewCastle63) August 30, 2018
Nick Kyrgios through in four sets after recovering from 6-4 3-0 down. Umpire Mohamed Lahyani's pep talk right up there with Sir Alex Ferguson's half-time team talk at White Hart Lane in 2001... #USOpen
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) August 30, 2018
To be clear, I don't think Kyrgios did anything wrong here.
I do think Lahyani should be yanked off this match *immediately*. Get him off that court. #USOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 30, 2018
Others have defended both the umpire and the player involved.
Speaking on US television coverage of the tournament, John McEnroe leaped to their defence. The American rarely saw eye-to-eye with umpires during his playing career, so it is somewhat surprising to see him react to the incident in this way.
— Ilya Ryvlin (@ryvlin) August 31, 2018
The US Open official twitter account were quick to release a statement on the matter. It stated that Lahyani was simply asking the player if he required medical treatment, while also issuing a warning that he would abandon the match if Kyrgios' effort levels did not improve.
It was also claimed that the umpire left his chair as the noise of the crowd stopped him from communicating with the Australian.
US Open Statement from US Open Tournament Referee on the Nick Kyrgios vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert Match pic.twitter.com/UHKPhVeYIb
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 30, 2018
Strange to say the least.
Kyrgios will now face Rodger Federer in the next round.