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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday August 14, 2019

Nick Kyrgios took fans (and haters, and an umpire, and Karen Khachanov) on another wild ride on Wednesday night in Cincinnati.

And when it was done he cursed at umpire Fergus Murphy just for good measure.

It was yet another example of edgy Kyrgios unwound, and the drama started early and never stopped, with the Aussie producing a nonstop spool of vitriol directed at Murphy based on what Kyrgios perceived as unfair treatment.

Kyrgios accused Murphy of starting the serve clock too quickly after points and ranted at the umpire during all of his changeovers, saying that Murphy would never dare to start the 25-second clock so quickly for Rafael Nadal.

"Rafa's routine alone takes 20 seconds," Kyrgios said. "This is a joke. I'm one of the fastest players."

When Kyrgios wasn't jawing with Murphy he sat at his chair and yelled across to his box, insulting the umpire as if he wasn't there, while Murphy just looked on in silence.

After the second set Kyrgios left the court even though Murphy ordered him to stay, telling the Aussie it was already too late for a bathroom break. The Aussie went through some doors and quickly smashed two racquets before walking back onto the court, leaving Murphy puzzled. At the time Kyrgios had already been giving two code violations, leaving him penalized a point to start the third set—another would have docked him a game.

But Murphy demurred. He was extremely patient and elected to absorb Kyrgios’ abuse. He did nothing when the Aussie smashed a plastic bottle on the court after another changeover in the third set and while Murphy was keeping quiet, so was Khachanov on the other side of the net.

The Russian admitted that it was not an easy task.

"He has a really great talent but sometimes the head not in the right place... anyway it was a really difficult match for me--I had to really work it out, how to get the win,” he said after coming through with the 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-2 victory.

As Kyrgios unraveled further in the third set the calm Russian was there to take his opportunities. He broke for 4-2 and reeled off the final four games and Kyrgios continued to fixate on Murphy.

It was a strange encounter, and a difficult one to watch at times. Kyrgios played some amazing tennis, particularly after falling behind 5-2 in the opening set and seeing the trainer for what looked to be a calf or achilles injury, but his behavior left a dark cloud over the match as he gradually lost control of himself.

Murphy was not in the wrong at all—and if he made any mistake it was that he didn’t dock Kyrgios for more infractions.

In the end it was another lowlight for Kyrgios, a talented player that loves (and perhaps needs) to walk a tightrope in nearly every match he plays.

By the end of this contest Khachanov was the true hero. It would have been easy for him to become distracted by the immature, attention-seeking antics of Kyrgios but he kept his calm and focused on doing what he needed to do to win. Murphy really should have policed the match better, but credit to Khachanov for taking care of his business and taking the high road after the match.

The Russian moves on to face Lucas Pouille in the round of 16.

As for Kyrgios, he'll likely be facing some stiff fines and maybe even some discipline for his actions.


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