Meltdown eats Kyrgios in bizarre umpire clash
Nick Kyrgios lost the plot again going down in straight sets to American Reilly Opelka at the Houston Open.
In what was his first clay court semi-final on the ATP Tour since 2016, the Australian’s disdain for officialdom reared its head again, with the world No.94 docked a point for swearing which cost him a crucial game near the end of a tight second set in the 6-3 7-5 loss.
In bizarre scenes, the umpire Joshua Brace admitted he’d made a mistake over a disputed line call at 5-5 in the second frame.
The disputed point left the score at 30-all, but Kyrgios was clearly impacted by the call and made an unforced error next point, leading to an expletive-ridden outburst, forcing the umpire’s hand, leading to a docked point which cost him the game at break point down.
He was lucky not to earn another, potentially game and match-losing penalty as he continued to scream out loud “F—!” as he walked back to his seat for the changeover.
There, he drilled the official: “F—- out! How are you not calling it? It’s an absolute joke.”
During the exchange, the clearly flustered Brace admitted: “I believe it now, I made a mistake.”
Kyrgios clashed with Brace earlier, when Opelka’s return at 30-15 had appeared to go over the baseline but wasn’t called out as Kyrgios went on to lose the point.
“If it is out, then I did miss it,” said the umpire, to which Kyrgios responsed: “Well, congratulations…”
Unfortunately for Kyrgios, his emotions got in the way of some great tennis once again.
The Aussie battled hard on his least favourite surface to get back into the match against the huge-serving, 211cm-tall Opelka.
The American dominated the first set and only dropped four points behind his massive serve in the opening set. When he broke Kyrgios’ serve midway through the second, it seemed over.
However, the Aussie found some of his best form to break back and looked like he was destined to send it to a third set until he lost his cool.
Opelka, remaining perfectly calm amid all the nonsense, stepped up at 6-5, served three aces and sealed the win in 69 minutes, earning a place in the final against either fellow US giant John Isner or Chile’s Cristian Garin.
At the end of the match, Kyrgios went at the chair umpire again: “Do you feel bad?” he asked Brace. “I don’t think you feel bad.”
Kyrgios, trying to reach his first ATP final since Washington in 2019. He was fined a total of $US 60,000 ($A80,000) after losing in Indian Wells and Miami and could face more after the clash with Brace.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!