Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kyrgios minds his manners -- mostly -- in Open loss

Third-seeded Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios meet in the first round tonight
at Arthur Ashe Stadium. A late-arriving crowd almost filled the 22,547-seat
facility, the world's largest for tennis. The retractable roof is scheduled to be
finished in time for the 2016 U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
   NEW YORK -- Nick Kyrgios was warned for an audible obscenity only once and slammed his racket on the court just once.
   By Kyrgios' standards, that's angelic.
   The 20-year-old Australian, playing on probation after committing a major offense last month in Montreal, lost to third-seeded Andy Murray 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 tonight in the first round of the U.S. Open.
   It was a tantalizing matchup between a two-time Grand Slam champion, Murray, and a two-time Slam quarterfinalist with the potential to win multiple majors, according to John McEnroe.
   Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, said Kyrgios "has played well pretty much in every Grand Slam tournament that he's been part of. He's had big wins and pushed a lot of guys extremely hard and caused a few upsets as well. I expected a very tough match, and that's what I got.”
   On the women's side, No. 6 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic became the highest and latest women's seed to fall in the U.S. Open. The 28-year-old left-hander lost to Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-1. 
   The highly entertaining, if volatile, Kyrgios pushed Murray with his powerful serve and whipping forehand, hit several "tweeners" (none of which resulted in winning the point), flipped his racket high in the air in frustration once and had the racket fly out of his hand on a forehand on another occasion.
Murray defeated Kyrgios in four sets.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Murray, though, pounded 18 aces and saved 11 of 14 break points against him.
   After breaking Murray to win the third set, Kyrgios lost his serve at love in the opening game of the fourth set and was warned for an audible obscenity during the changeover. After Kyrgios held for 1-2, Murray won the last four games.
   “He’s unpredictable and can play all of the shots,” Murray told ESPN’s Brad Gilbert on the court after the victory. “It was a very tricky match."
   During Kyrgios' second-round victory over Stan Wawrinka on Aug. 12 in Montreal, a courtside microphone picked up Kyrgios saying that his Aussie friend, promising 19-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis, had slept with Wawrinka's girlfriend, reportedly 19-year-old Croatian player Donna Vekic. Kyrgios later apologized on his Facebook page.
   Kyrgios was fined the on-site maximum of $10,000. He also was assessed $2,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct related to a comment made to a ball person during the match. 
   The ATP imposed a further fine of $25,000 and a 28-day suspension on Aug. 24. However, the penalties will be withheld if Kyrgios does not incur any fines for verbal or physical abuse or accumulate fines totaling more than $5,000 for any other offenses over the next six months.
   Safarova, this year's French Open runner-up, had beaten Tsurenko 6-2, 7-6 (4) last week in the semifinals at New Haven before falling to countrywoman Petra Kvitova.
   The 37th-ranked Tsurenko will meet Varvara Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan, on Thursday in the second round. Lepchenko, ranked 46th, dismantled Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1, 6-1. 
   Safarova is the fourth top-10 women's seed to lose in the opening round. No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro fell on Monday.
   Also exiting today was No. 14 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland. Bacsinszky, a French Open semifinalist and Wimbledon quarterfinalist this year, bowed out to Czech veteran Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-0.
Kyrgios slugs a forehand in his loss to Murray.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Advancing easily were No. 2 seed Simona Halep of Romania and No. 11 Angelique Kerber, a German who won last month's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Donald Young of Atlanta scored one of the biggest wins of his career, overcoming 11th-seeded Gilles Simon of France 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
   Second-seeded Roger Federer, a five-time champion at Flushing Meadows (2004-08), drubbed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
   And Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 titlist playing his last U.S. Open at 34, defeated Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan 6-0, 7-6 (2), 1-0, retired.
   In matches involving players with Northern California ties, former Stanford star Nicole Gibbs outlasted 34-year-old Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, San Francisco native Sam Querrey lost to Nicolas Mahut of France 7-5, 7-6 (6), 7-5, and Jarmila Gajdosova of the Sacramento-based California Dream in World TeamTennis fell to 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
   The 117th-ranked Gibbs, who reached the third round of last year's U.S. Open, will face Kvitova next. Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, demolished qualifier Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-1, 6-1.
   Kvitova is 1-0 against Gibbs, having won 6-2, 6-4 three years ago in the second round at New Haven while Gibbs was still at Stanford. Kvitova went on to win the title.
   Querrey, ranked 38th after reaching a career-high 17 in 2011, completed a dismal Grand Slam singles year. The 27-year-old veteran won one match, at Wimbledon, in the four majors. His best Grand Slam singles results are fourth-round appearances in the U.S. Open in 2008 and 2010 and at Wimbledon in 2010.
   Mahut, 33, won the title on grass at s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, in June as a qualifier. He is best known for losing to John Isner 70-68 in the fifth set in the first round at Wimbledon in 2010 in the longest match in tennis history (11 hours, 5 minutes over three days).

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