Nick Kyrgios staged an extraordinary revival to make the third round of the US Open on Thursday evening after the controversial intervention of high-profile umpire Mohamed Lahyani.
The tempestuous Australian appeared not to be trying when he trailed Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 4-6 0-3, almost seeming to be deliberately avoiding a potential match-up against Roger Federer.
It was then that Lahyani, never one to be shy of the spotlight, got down from his chair to address Kyrgios, urging him to give his best and discussing if he needed the physio to come on court.
Nick Kygios was given a pep talk by the umpire during his second-round win at the US Open
Umpire Mohamed Lahyani was heard saying ‘I want to help you’ to Kyrgios during the match
Lahyani (right) got down from his chair to urge Kyrgios (centre) to try harder in the match
The umpire remonstrated with Kyrgios who had earlier been caught yawning on camera
Whatever the intention, it appeared to do the trick and the number 30 seed broke back, edged the ensuing tiebreak and emerged a 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-0 winner against an increasingly disconsolate opponent.
But even before the match had finished tournament officials were launching an investigation into the conduct of the Swedish umpire, looking at whether he had breached the rules governing impartial conduct.
It is not the first time that Lahyani has intervened with players appearing to ‘tank’ matches and look out of sorts, but this went further than before and looked almost like on-court coaching.
It is not the first time that Lahyani has intervened with players appearing to ‘tank’ matches
This went further than before and looked almost like on-court coaching for the Australian
The words seemed to have the desired impact though as Kyrgios mounted a comeback
He was picked up by microphones saying things such as ‘This isn’t you’, and ‘I want to help you’.
Kyrgios, who had been repeatedly double faulting up to that point, sometimes delivering second serves at 130mph or more, played it down afterwards, saying: ‘He was just concerned about how I was playing, like, ‘Nick are you okay?”
The Australian has been forced to undergo work with sports psychologists in the past by the ATP in light of him openly tanking matches, and there had been occasions in this match before the pep talk when he was not even moving to return serves.
Kyrgios now plays Roger Federer, with whom he has had close matches in the past, after the Swiss overcame Benoit Paire in straight sets.
The Australian had been a set and 0-3 down to Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert at one point
Kyrgios (pictured) eventually turned it around to win 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-0 at Flushing Meadows