NEW YORK — Nick Kyrgios, who is perpetually in the middle of bizarre situations on the tennis court, outdid himself this time. In Sunday’s round of 16 match at the US Open against No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev, he lost a crucial point in perhaps the most careless way possible.
At 30-all in the second game of the third set, it appeared Kyrgios was going to have a break point and a chance to take the lead in the match. In fact, Kyrgios had the break point all but secured when his passing shot popped straight up in the air off of Medvedev’s racquet.
The ball was not going over the net, but for some reason Kyrgios sprinted to Medvedev’s side of the court to smack the ball out of the air before it bounced.
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This is, to put it mildly, against the rules of tennis. Players cannot reach over the net to the opponents’ side of the court to hit a ball out of the air, much less place their entire body there. The chair umpire immediately awarded the point to Medvedev, but the confusing part is that Kyrgios was apparently unaware he couldn’t do that. Subsequent to the exchange, he mentioned to ESPN’s Patrick McEnroe who was sitting courtside that he didn’t know it was against the rules.
It’s hard to believe that Kyrgios, who has been playing tennis pretty much his whole life and made the Wimbledon final this year, did not know. But whether it was just an instinct to showboat or true ignorance, it didn’t make any sense. All Kyrgios had to do was let the ball bounce and he would have won the point.
Brad Gilbert, also of ESPN and a longtime ATP Tour player, tweeted immediately that he had never seen something like that before on a tennis court.
Kyrgios is no stranger to on-court antics, including frequent racquet smashing and beating supporters in his coaching box. He’s also known to be fond of trick shots like going between his legs or underarm serves. But he’s never done anything quite that reckless in a key moment.
Ultimately, it didn’t cost Kyrgios. Though Medvedev went on to hold serve for 1-1, Kyrgios broke shortly thereafter and closed out the third set, 6-3 before rolling in the fourth, 6-2, to advance to the quarterfinals.