Only the most diehard tennis fans gives two hoots about events like the Cincinnati Masters … and, really, why should we?
After all, there’s a professional tennis match going on somewhere in the world every other week, with a host of middle-ranking journey-types plying their trade, while making a more than comfortable living.
Nice to watch and meet a mate if you’re in town, otherwise – pretty much a non event.
It’s the sort of event that a bloke like Nick Kyrgios wins occasionally, prompting another round of media and fan applause for his raw talent.
“I feel like I’ve made major strides.” Kyrgios told reporters after winning the Open event in Washington event earlier this month, defeating two top-ten ranked opponents.
“A lot of habits needed to change,” he said with the honesty for which he is often praised. “I just had a lot of unhealthy habits, and it was starting to show on the tennis court. It was too up and down. It wasn’t healthy.”
You all fell for it didn’t you?
Nothing’s changed because it’s part of the circus act. Nothing changed because without a coach and a determination to become a great player Nick Kyrgios will be happy to attract headlines and keep the show on the road.
Sure, the 24-year-old will face a $167,000 fine and possible suspension ahead of the US Open for his latest abusive outburst during the defeat to Karen Khachanov in Cincinnati, but within weeks – usually after a win – you’ll start reading again about how one day he’ll break through.
Perhaps it is time we started talking about Kyrgios’ bullying antics and whether it’s acceptable to broadcast them time and again to the world.
You can bet umpire Fergus Murphy, at whom most of the Kyrgios tirade was directed, is not buying what the brat is selling.
He’s now getting used to being the spark that ignites the Kyrgios explosion – this time having to oversee a match with the Australian throwing his towel over a television, wasting time and leaving the court to smash two racquets in the toilet and return.
The latter incident was – it has to be said – comical, but it also highlighted that the Kyrgios show is a one-joke act.
Through it all Kyrgios called the chair umpire a “potato”, a “disgrace” and the “worst ref in the world”.
Murphy responded with a point violation after Khachanov won the second-set tiebreaker to level the match and Kyrios screamed an obscenity.
After a double-fault handed Khachanov the match and the players shook hands, Kyrgios told Murphy “you’re a f–––ing tool bro” and appeared to spit in the direction of the umpire before he shunned the traditional handshake.
Kyrgios’ fines for the day included five charges of unsportsmanlike conduct, one for verbal abuse, one for an audible obscenity and another for leaving the court.
Marketable, or just tiresome?
“The ATP is looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match to see if additional action is warranted under the Player Major Offense section of the code. That could result in an additional fine and/or suspension,” the game’s governing body said in a statement on Thursday.
Meanwhile, on another court at Cincinnati, Ash Barty rallied from a set down to edge Estonian Anett Kontaveit to book her place in the quarter-finals.
The top-seeded Australian clinched a battling victory with a deep forehand winner and raised her right fist in triumph after fighting off match point and outlasting Kontaveit in two hours and 10 minutes.
French Open champion Barty, currently ranked second, can reclaim the world top spot by reaching the tournament final in the US Open warm-up event in Ohio.
“The best thing is when my back was against the wall, the tennis was there,” Barty said.
“It may not have been there the whole match, but we were able to find it when we needed it.”
Note to Nick Kyrgios fans – that is a real tennis headline.