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With Tennis Season Coming To An End, Nick Kyrgios Likely Going Out With A Bang at The 2019 U.S. Open

By Ricky Dimon

Nick Kyrgios is playing in another night session on another big court at the U.S. Open on Thursday. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, by Kyrgios standards his first night-session treatment of this tournament in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Tuesday night was tame. During his 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4 opening-round victory over Steve Johnson, the Aussie incurred only one audible obscenity warming but otherwise avoided his usual dose of code violations. Johnson was about ready to kill him throughout the last two sets, but that really had more to do with Johnson than it did with Kyrgios. You just have to know that Kyrgios is going to do stuff that normal opponents don’t, and you have to ignore it.

Take Karen Khachanov, for example. Khach could write the book on how to play a match against Kyrgios. Not from a tactical standpoint (although the Russian did that well, too, in his wild 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 defeat of the world No. 30 earlier this month in Cincinnati). But mentally. The Russian showed no emotion–I mean zero, aside from the occasional positive energy when he won big points–even though his opponent was busy racking up $113,000 in fines. That’s right: one hundred and 13 thousand!

Against Khachanov, Kyrgios was docked for:

– ball abuse
– unsportsmanlike conduct
– leaving the court
– audible obscenity
– unsportsmanlike conduct
– unsportsmanlike conduct
– verbal abuse
– unsportsmanlike conduct
– unsportsmanlike conduct

Count ’em up. That’s nine code violations. Nine code violations in a single match. Nine.

He was hit with just one in the same number of sets against Johnson, but the American still melted down after a second-set changeover in which Kyrgios started arguing with chair umpire James Keothavong for absolutely no reason. The 24-year-old was mad–or at least strategically made himself mad because an otherwise straightforward match needed some life–that Keothavong wasn’t controlling the fans as a few of them disrupted play by walking to their seats after time had been called.

Kyrgios made an especially curious comment when he asked Keothavong, “Why are you looking at me when I’m serving?”

Um, because that’s what chair umpires do? They… you know… look at players when shots are being hit so that they know when to turn their head to the other side of the court and see where the ball lands. Last I checked this isn’t rocket science.

But it also shouldn’t be rocket science for an opponent, in this case Johnson, to expect these kinds of shenanigans from Kyrgios. The recent Washington, D.C. champion’s antics on Tuesday night also included the standard griping with his box, SABR returns, unnecessary between-the-legs attempts, and a “That’s too good” comment–not following a Johnson winner, but following one of his ownwinners. Again, by Kyrgios standards that’s nothing…. But Johnson couldn’t handle it.

What’s even more unnerving is that while the ATP can handle stuff like that (and by “stuff” I mean calling chair umpire Fergus Murphy “a f—— tool,” for which Kyrgios still hasn’t been suspended), it apparently can’t handle being called “corrupt.”

Yes, Kyrgios is apparently going to be suspended simply for calling the ATP “corrupt” (he made that comment after beating Johnson) and not for racking up nine code violations in one tennis match. Apparently you can call an ATP employee a “a f—— tool” to his face loud enough for any television viewer to year but you can’t mutter that the ATP is “corrupt” in a secluded interview room at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

As such, Kyrgios was forced to backtrack on those comments and posted an apology on Twitter.

“It was not the correct choice of words and my point and intention was to address what I see as double standards rather than corruption,” he wrote. “I know my behavior at times has been controversial and that has landed me in trouble, which at times is granted and valid, but my issue is around others whether gaining the same, less or more media attention, doing the same or similar behavior and not being sanctioned.

“That’s my issue and it continues to be. To be clear, I know I’m not perfect and do not pretend to be and I acknowledge I’ve deserved fines and sanctioning at times, but I expect consistency and fairness with this across the board, to date that’s not happened.”

The ATP issued its own statement on Wednesday, saying that Kyrgios’ “corrupt” comments would be considered “under the Player Major Offense provision under ATP Rules.” It added, “A determination will be made by Gayle David Bradshaw, Executive Vice President, Rules & Competition, following an investigation as required by ATP rules.”

There are so many things wrong here. Kyrgios isn’t getting double-standard treatment (no other player does what he does), the ATP isgoing to suspend him for what he shouldn’t be suspended for, and it isn’t going to suspend him for what he should be suspended for!

The bottom line is that Kyrgios is getting suspended and he knows it. He also doesn’t care. After the U.S. Open, there is nothing on the 2019 tennis schedule that pique’s his interest other than the Laver Cup. One way or another, this U.S. Open is for all intents and purposes the end of his season. He knows it. The ATP knows it. Everyone knows it.

That’s why things could get especially crazy in the Grandstand on Thursday night. And with the draw Kyrgios has in the wide-open bottom half, things could be crazy all the way until the final weekend.

He’s gonna go out with a bang.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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