Tennis: US Open umpire in Kyrgios row 'went beyond protocol', escapes sanction

Kyrgios puts his hand up to his ear to encourage the cheering crowd before closing out his win.
Kyrgios puts his hand up to his ear to encourage the cheering crowd before closing out his win. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (AFP) - Mohamed Lahyani, the US Open umpire who came down from his chair to give Australia's Nick Kyrgios a pep talk, "went beyond protocol" but will be allowed to continue officiating, organisers said on Friday (Aug 31).

"The US Open determined that chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani's conduct during Thursday's second-round match involving Nick Kyrgios and Pierre-Hugues Herbert went beyond protocol," said a statement.

"Lahyani was advised to adhere to proper protocols in all matches that he officiates moving forward.

"Lahyani will continue to officiate during the 2018 US Open. His performance will continue to be evaluated, as will that of all chair umpires throughout the course of the US Open."

The 52-year-old Lahyani stunned the tournament on Thursday when he climbed off his chair on Court 17 and stood over Kyrgios who was a set and 3-0 down and sinking fast.

"I want to help you," Lahyani could be heard saying to the player as questions on an official's impartiality began to be raised on social media.

"This isn't you. I know that. You are great for tennis."

After the impromptu pep talk, 30th seed Kyrgios went on to capture 19 of the next 25 games to claim a 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-0 win and a third round clash against Roger Federer.

Kyrgios insisted that Lahyani's intervention had no effect at all on his performance but the Swedish official was widely lambasted by players, coaches and fans who argued that he had over-stepped the mark.

Federer said Lahyani had been wrong to interfere while Herbert said he is an umpire "not a coach".

Tournament referee Brian Earley added a bizarre twist by claiming that Lahyani had only come down from his chair as the noise from the crowd made it impossible for him to communicate with the Australian.