Nick Kyrgios is no stranger to a spot of controversy — the Aussie tennis star received a bizarre pep talk yesterday from the chair umpire, sparking outrage among tennis fans.
Kyrgios was trailing his French opponent, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, by a set and a break when Mohamed Lahyani left his chair to beg the star to start trying in his match.
“I want to help you. I want to help you,” Lahyani said. “I’ve seen your matches: you’re great for tennis. Nick, I know this is not you.”
And it certainly seemed to work for Kyrgios, who began to play with more intensity. The Australian gathered momentum as he surged to a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory.
However, the umpire’s controversial pep talk was slammed on social media, with fans furious, claiming it was unfair on Herbert.
Former Australian umpire Richard Ings led the criticism tweeting: “I am racking my brain to think of a situation requiring a chair umpire to speak like that to one player. I umpired thousands of matches. I was ATP head of officiating. I can’t think of one.”
Croatian tennis payer Donna Vekic added: “Didn’t know umpires were allowed to give pep talks.”
It comes after long-time tennis pro, Roger Federer warned Kyrgios to slow down following his latest foul-mouthed rant during his US Open match against Moldovan player Radu Albot.
Federer, 37, weighed in on the debate over the controversial player, insisting while many players enjoy the fun on court – including himself – most drop their wild antics after their teenage years and calm down from there . However, he believes Kyrgios has got “more extreme”.
“I think he finds it hard to not do any of those tricks,” Federer said on ESPN after his own first round victory. “Like myself, to some extent, we need the fun, we need the drop shot, we need some variation to everything, but he takes it to the next level.”
It comes after a series of scandals for the sportsman, who just months ago came under fire for a series of expletive-ridden rants at Queen’s Club in London. Kyrgios has made a name for himself as a ‘tantrum thrower’ over the years, and is regularly caught up in backlash over his on-camera antics.