Umpire Suspended For Dropping Truth Bomb On Nick Kyrgios
A two-week suspension for telling it like it is.
That's the penalty dished out overnight to Swedish tennis umpire Mohamed Lahyani, who climbed down off his chair at the US Open two weeks ago and gave Nick Kyrgios the sort of talking-to we'd all love to have given him for at least five years now.
Kyrgios was having a very Nick Kyrgios kinda day in his second round match against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert. On a searingly hot New York City day, Kyrgios's enthusiasm levels were decidedly cool as he slumped to a set down and 0-3 in the second set.
The most talented Australian male tennis player in a generation was doing his best Bernie Tomic impersonation, letting balls fly by with barely a swish of the racquet.
At that point, any Australians watching were pretty much screaming at the television going, "Come on Nick, show some interest. All that talent... why do you waste it so?"
And then a little miracle happened. Umpire Lahyani left his high chair to counsel the man who'd been acting like a child who belonged in said tall item of furniture.
"I want to help you, I want to help you," he said. "I've seen your matches, You're great for tennis... This isn’t you. I know that," Lahyani said.
From an Aussie perspective, this was a good moment. As mentioned, Umpire Lahyani delivered Nick Kyrgios the sort of truth bomb Aussie fans have been busting to tell Kyrgios for years.
From the perspective of Pierre-Hugues Herbert, not so much. The Frenchman rightly complained that it changed the momentum of a match which Kyrgios eventually won in four sets.
Although Kyrgios downplayed the umpire's influence in post-match interviews, there was no doubt to anyone watching that the intervention was the moment that changed everything.
Roger Federer, who met and beat Kyrgios in the subsequent match, was also in no doubt.
"He was there for too long," Federer said of the umpire's intervention.
"It’s a conversation. Conversations can change your mind-set. It can be a physio, a doctor, an umpire for that matter. That’s why it won’t happen again. I think everybody knows that."
The two-week suspension pretty much guarantees that Fed will be proven right. It won't happen again.
But maybe, just maybe, the next Nick Kyrgios meltdown will be a little less likely, in which case Mohamed Lahyani did more good than harm that steamy New York day.