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Kyrgios melts down again during Cincinnati loss

August 15, 2019 12:29 IST

Nick Kyrgios

IMAGE: Nick Kyrgios faces a heavy sanction from the ATP after clashing with on-court officials for the second time in as many weeks and with umpire Fergus Murphy for the second time this month. Photograph: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Nick Kyrgios continued his feud with umpire Fergus Murphy during his second round loss to Karen Khachanov at the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday, loudly abusing the official before leaving the court to smash some rackets.

 

The Australian faces a heavy sanction from the ATP after clashing with on-court officials for the second time in as many weeks and with Murphy for the second time this month as his frustration mounted during his 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 loss.

Kyrgios confronted Murphy late in the second set and accused him of starting the shot clock too early. He was ultimately issued a point penalty at the end of the second set tiebreak after insulting the Irish umpire using an expletive.

The unseeded 24-year-old then left the court for what he deemed a bathroom break, despite protests from Murphy, and television pictures showed him smashing his rackets in a tunnel.

Kyrgios, who left the court without shaking Murphy's hand, clashed with the Irish official two weeks ago at the Washington Open, which he went on to win, and also had a run-in with another umpire over a towel last week in Montreal.

Murphy was also the subject of an expletive-ridden rant from Kyrgios at the Queen's Club Wimbledon warm-up tournament in June.

Russian eighth seed Khachanov kept his own cool throughout the histrionics and ended the match by winning three straight games to set up a meeting with France's Lucas Pouille for a place in the quarter-finals.

Unseeded German Jan-Lennard Struff earlier resisted a Stefanos Tsitsipas fightback and Serbian teenager Miomir Kecmanovic beat fifth-seed Alexander Zverev in two big upsets.

Struff, who has yet to win an ATP singles title in his decade-long career, was on top for most of the match against the 21-year old Greek.

He served for the match in the second set but Tsitsipas managed to stay alive by taking the set on a tiebreak.

However, the German refused to give up and sealed the 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(6) victory to set up a third round meeting with ninth-seed Daniil Medvedev, who beat France's Benoit Paire 7-6(2), 6-1.

"I had a chance to serve it out at 6-4, 5-4 but he broke back and that's the quality he has," Struff said.

"The quality I had today was coming back from that, the chance to win the match in two sets, then at 6-3 in the (third set) tie-break and then from 6-6.

"He was playing very well. I was telling myself 'I have to go for it, otherwise I won't win'.

"I've been working hard with my team on my fitness and it's all finally paying off and I'm playing with greater consistency."

Struff's compatriot Zverev was less consistent as he served a career-high 20 double faults in his 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 defeat to the 19-year-old qualifier from Belgrade.

The second youngest player in the top 100, Kecmanovic's victory was his first against an opponent ranked in the top 10 and he is projected to advance into the top-50 next week.

Among the other surprises on Wednesday, world number five Kei Nishikori was beaten 7-6(2), 6-4 by Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, while Canadian Denis Shapovalov also lost 6-4, 6-4 to Lucas Pouille.

World number one Novak Djokovic and third seed Roger Federer advanced to the third round on Tuesday.

Barty beats Sharapova, Halep survives scare

Top seeded Ash Barty overcame a slow start to defeat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-1, while Simona Halep battled past Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday.

French Open champion Barty double faulted to give Sharapova a 2-1 lead in the first set and it looked like an upset could be brewing in the showdown between the two former world number ones.

But an error-prone Sharapova bowed out after she produced six double faults and squandered six of her seven break point opportunities.

"Overall it was a pretty clean performance," Barty said.

"It's difficult to come out against a player like Maria. She's an incredible champion, she knows how to fight and she makes you earn every single point.

"So I was really pleased with the way I was able to hang in there today and win some of those big points."

Barty earned an early break in the second set when she rifled a crosscourt forehand that caught Sharapova flat footed for a 2-0 lead.

Sharapova fought hard the next game, forcing seven deuces but was unable to break and Barty cruised to the finish from there, winning 11 of the last 13 games.

Barty will next face Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Polish teenager Iga Swiatek in straight sets.

Wimbledon champion Halep had her back against the wall against the big-serving Alexandrova when she dropped the first set and trailed 5-4 in the second but won the next three games and elevated her play again in the decider.

The match was the first for Halep since she pulled out of her quarter-final at the Rogers Cup on Friday with an Achilles issue but she moved well in her battle with the Russian.

Fourth seed Halep is searching for her first title at the event after three runner-up finishes in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

"I feel confident every time I come here but the conditions are very tough. The court is very fast," the Romanian said.

World number one Naomi Osaka improved to 4-0 lifetime against Aliaksandra Sasnovich with a 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 win.

Osaka, who regained the top ranking after Barty's early exit from the Rogers Cup last week, smacked 24 winners as she looks to sharpen her game before heading to New York later this month to defend her U.S. Open title.

She faces Hsieh Su-Wei in the third round.

Third seeded Karolina Pliskova crushed lucky loser Wang Yafan 6-1, 6-3 and Donna Vekic knocked out former champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 7-5 to set up a showdown with Venus Williams on Thursday.

Seventh seed Elina Svitolina, ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka and big-serving American Madison Keys all advanced to the third round behind straight set wins.

Svitolina set up a date with American Sofia Kenin, who beat Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-1.

Another American, eighth seed Sloane Stephens, had a tougher match against Yulia Putintseva but prevailed 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 and will next face Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 winner over Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska.

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