Tennis: US Open umpire sparks row by giving Nick Kyrgios pep talk, telling Australian, 'I want to help you' during match

A file photo of Swedish umpire Mohamed Lahyani. Lahyani's "I want to help you" offer to Nick Kyrgios was criticised by the latter's US Open oppponent Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
A file photo of Swedish umpire Mohamed Lahyani. Lahyani's "I want to help you" offer to Nick Kyrgios was criticised by the latter's US Open oppponent Pierre-Hugues Herbert. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Pierre-Hugues Herbert lambasted the US Open for "taking us for fools" as the row over umpire Mohamed Lahyani's "I want to help you" offer to opponent Nick Kyrgios took a dramatic new twist.

Lahyani caused a sensation on Thursday (Aug 30) when he climbed down from his chair to talk to Kyrgios over a perceived lack of effort in his second-round clash against Herbert who was a set and 3-0 ahead at the time.

"I want to help you," Lahyani could be heard saying to the Australian. "This isn't you. I know that. You are great for tennis."

After the impromptu pep talk on Court 17, Kyrgios won 19 of the next 25 games to win 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-0.

The US Open later issued a statement claiming that Lahyani had needed to climb down from his chair because crowd noise meant Kyrgios could not hear him.

But 27-year-old Herbert was furious with that response.

"The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is clearly taking us for fools," Herbert said in a statement.

"We all hear on the video what the umpire said to Nick, overstepping his functions.

"To err is human but I am still waiting for explanations.

"When we players make mistakes on court we are sanctioned."

Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic turned back the challenge of American Tennys Sandgren to reach the third round.

Djokovic, winner of the title in Flushing Meadows in 2011 and 2015, defeated the 61st-ranked American 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 and will meet either fellow Serb Laslo Djere or France's Richard Gasquet for a place in the last 16.