NEW YORK • Tennis has always been viewed as pristine and gentlemanly. Crowds are hushed, players are (mostly) proper, and the gameplay is sophisticated. But over the years, as in any other sport, the bad boys have come out to play.
On Tuesday, fiery Australian star Bernard Tomic was at the centre of a foul-mouthed controversy when he became embroiled in a lewd exchange with a heckler.
The 23-year-old slumped to a 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-0) defeat by Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia on the old Grandstand court.
But before he lost the first-round match, he also spectacularly misplaced his composure, angrily hitting back at a spectator whom he later accused of deliberately trying to get under his skin.
Courtside microphones picked up Tomic telling the fan, "I will put my b***s in your mouth," followed moments later by "I will give you some money to make you feel good".
Tomic apologised for the incident, suggesting his Croatian roots may have been a factor in the clash against his Bosnian opponent.
"I apologised for what I said. I think when the guy left after the first set, the crowd got happy because he was a bit annoying," said Tomic, who was unable to recall what was said to him.
"He was just sort of saying negative stuff. I didn't know who it was because I was just focusing on the court.
"It was tough to figure out in the background. It's passed and I don't really care who this guy is. He definitely baited me.
"I had problems on the other end, as well, with a few people in the corner. They were saying some negative stuff to me, in my language of Serbian-Croatian. The microphones didn't pick that up. But I obviously caught the blame for that."
His compatriot Nick Kyrgios was also in the spotlight on Monday, after confirming in a Q&A session with his Twitter followers that tennis players are allowed to smoke marijuana on Tour.
Kyrgios replied "yep" when asked by one of his Twitter followers: "Are you allowed to smoke weed on Tour?"
Officials said Kyrgios would not be sanctioned for that tweet, reported the Australian Associated Press. But he continued to attract attention on Tuesday in his first-round match against Britain's Aljaz Bedene. He won 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 but not before receiving a code violation.
In the opening game, he was warned by the umpire for aggressively hitting a ball, after a rally where he was deemed to be too close to a linesman.
"You're giving me a code violation for hitting the ball too hard. I've heard it all now," Kyrgios said.
In another incident, Italy's Fabio Fognini called the US Open the worst of the Grand Slams after he was docked a point for grabbing a line judge's sunglasses.
Fognini, 29, now faces a fine for his actions during his 6-7 (7-9), 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, 6-4 comeback victory over Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili.
"They have their rules. You know, the Americans are different in every way," he said. "Of the four Slams, this, as far as I'm concerned, is the worst for a number of reasons."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN