Nick Kyrgios has cruised into the last 32 at the US Open men’s singles, but not without another dash of controversy.
Kyrgios staged a pre-match protest over a logo dispute before eventually toeing the line and notching a comfortable 6-4 6-2 6-4 win over French wildcard Antoine Hoang.
The walking controversy took to The Grandstand court on Thursday night (local time) with the words “Just Do You” emblazoned on the back of his raised collar.
But the tournament supervisor told Kyrgios to change the shirt after the warm-up, because of an apparent dress-code breach.
Initially, Kyrgios was having none of it.
“I’m not going to play until you show me the rule,” he said.
“I want to know the rule. I want to see the rule.
“I’ve seen shirts worse.”
Kyrgios, who is already facing two ATP investigations for his conduct during and after his previous two matches in Cincinnati and New York, reluctantly agreed to play with his collar down – and came out firing.
The 28th seed broke Hoang, the world No.104 and making his US Open debut, in the first game of the match and never looked back.
Kyrgios is facing a potential suspension after the season’s final grand slam as the ATP investigates his “major offences”,
He has already earned a code violation at the US Open, for dropping a succession of F-bombs in his match against American Steve Johnson on Tuesday.
Johnson was unimpressed, at one point urging the Australian to “Stop f—ing around and let’s play tennis” as Kyrgios raged at the chair umpire.
In his post-match interview after beating Johnson, Kyrgios accused the ATP of corruption when asked about his record $167,000 fine for a meltdown in Cincinnati. He hastily backed away from the claim when the ATP announced it was investigating.
“It was not the correct choice of words and my point and intention was to address what I see as double standards rather than corruption,” he tweeted.
Hear him roar! 🦁
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 30, 2019
The fiery Australian will next play Russian Andrey Rublev on Saturday for a place in the last 16.
After that, he might meet countryman Alexei Popyrin in the fourth round after the fast-rising 20-year-old continued his superb first full season at the slams with a valiant four-set win over world No.47 Mikhail Kukushkin.
Popyrin fought back from a set and a service break down to equal his charge to the Australian Open third round with a 2-6 7-5 6-3 6-2 victory over the seasoned Kazakh.
Popyrin will play Italian Matteo Berrettini after the 24th seed took out Australian No.3 Jordan Thompson 7-5 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-1.
Thanasi Kokkinakis’s tournament is also over after the luckless star was forced to withdraw from his scheduled centre-court showdown with Rafael Nadal with a recurrence of a pec muscle strain.
Kokkinakis battled for almost four hours on Tuesday to beat Ilya Ivashka in four sets in what was the 24-year-old’s first main-draw win at a grand slam since the 2015 French Open.
“I guess I’m just not ready for grand slams yet. It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Kokkinakis said.
But Alex de Minaur joined Kyrgios and Popyrin in the third round with an impressive 6-3 7-5 6-3 win over seded Chilean Christan Garin.
Seventh seed Kei Nishikori, a finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2014, stands between de Minaur and a spot in the second week at a major for the first time.