Nick Kyrgios melted down spectacularly Wednesday night at the Cincinnati Masters, in a second-round loss to eighth seed Karen Khachanov, 6–7, 7–6, 6–2. Kyrgios completed a stirring comeback in the first set but started coming unglued in the second set, after chair umpire Fergus Murphy hit him with a time violation warning for taking too long between serves, in a game Kyrgios would go on to win.
Khachanov, who stayed calm throughout the Kyrgios tempest, narrowly won the second set. In the third, Kyrgios was hit with a code violation for calling Murphy “the worst fucking referee ever.” This is roughly where the ongoing meltdown went from uncomfortable to sublime. Kyrgios, clearly boiling with uncontrolled rage but wanting to avoid further penalties, grabbed two rackets and a towel and calmly walked off the court and into the tunnel for a “bathroom break.” He got the “break” part in, anyway:
The best part of this was a confused Murphy saying into his walkie-talkie, “he went to the bathroom with two rackets and came back with two broken rackets.” Anyway, the brief exit worked, by one measure: Kyrgios avoided the racket penalties he so richly deserved, although he did receive a time violation warning for the time it took him to re-grip his next racket.
This was not remotely the end of Kyrgios’s tantrum. He tanked the final set, chirping at Murphy the entire way. Following the loss, Kyrgios shook hands with Khachanov, then called Murphy a “fucking tool” and appeared to spit at him, the latter of which is both enormously fucked-up and also a huge no-no:
It seems inevitable that Kyrgios will be fined for that last part, if not suspended. It was a shame of an ending, really—for a few minutes this was an entertaining and surprisingly clever little meltdown, before Kyrgios decided to punt on the match and divert all his energy to ratcheting up his conflict with the umpire.
Update (Aug. 15, 1:12 p.m. ET): Lotsa fines.